4 Jan 2008

Cash for Northern Marianas casino approved by House of Representatives

11:19 am on 4 January 2008

An appropriation bill for Rota's future casino industry narrowly passed at the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

House Bill 15-326, which appropriates 500,000 US dollars for the Rota casino industry, initially received only 12 votes in the House.

To pass, the bill needed 14 votes, or three-fourths of the House membership.

However, three members, who had initially abstained, changed their vote.

The Marianas Variety newspaper reports the measure now heads to the Senate.

The half-million dollars eyed for the Rota casino industry will be transferred from the island's much-delayed Route 100 road project.

Rota Republican Crispin Ogo, author of the bill, says Rota's priority now lies with the casino industry which is seen to jumpstart the economic development of the island.

He added that the road construction project, where the money will be taken, had no hope of being started soon.

He explained that the government would need millions of dollars to acquire private property before the road project could begin.

The Rota casino act places no restrictions on the total number of casino licenses that may be issued, or the number of casinos that a person or a group may own or operate.