Unexpected changes in casino plans beg a lot of questions


As a member of the business community I am interested and committed to projects that build our economic base so I support Best Sunshine’s plan to invest $7 billion constructing a mega integrated resort that adds 2,000 hotel rooms to our current inventory. This, I believe, is what the Casino Licensing or Lottery Commission approved, after the competition between Best Sunshine and Mega Stars.

Since then, a number of large changes that aren’t clear have been approved and without much public notice by the Casino Licensing Commission or the Lottery Commission. Now, the project will be undertaken in stages, beginning with a 250-room hotel and casino to be constructed in Garapan.

The actual training, according to news articles, will occur in the Bank of Guam building in Garapan, but the practice will happen at the live-training facility to be constructed in DFS.  To their credit, news reports also state that the $25 million includes lease fees and is not to be confused with construction costs. Aside from lease fees, the bulk of these costs is in equipment and instructors. A detailed itemization is what the Lottery or Casino Commission should be requesting at this time so this information can be shared with the public and the business community.

This newest change sounds like a training center but isn’t only a training center but a live-training center, which means customers. Nothing in the original request for proposals or subsequent authorizations includes this new construct but there it is. Though there is no specific language indicating that the live-training facility would generate revenue, it is hard to imagine that it would not.

It is unclear but Best Sunshine has a number of tax prerogatives built into its operations and the questions would be whether this new, smaller, live-training casino would be exempt from various taxes under this new licensing arrangement?

A number of local politicians have lined up in support of these newest changes, seemingly without any concern about how these deviations benefit the public or whether similar support would be extended to businesses that have been here for decades.

As a $7-billion, 2,000 room, mega-integrated casino development, special accommodations, tax provisions, etc. are mostly spelled out in the original request for proposals and subsequent license. As a 250-room hotel with live-training casino, the special provisions do not necessarily apply. These are not the original terms. And there is no certainty that Phases II through VI will ever be constructed. It is so far into the future so lawmakers and government officials have an obligation to make sure that the people’s interests are adequately protected.

Juan S. Tenorio
Airport Road, Dandan

Jun Dayao Dayao
This post is published under the Contributing Author. He/she does not normally work for Saipan Tribune but contributes for a specific topic or series.

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