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US-Saipan casino petition given more time

By - 15 June 2012

Regulators on the island of Saipan have given casino proponents more time in their bid to drum up signed support for a proposal to introduce casino gaming to the islands.

The island, which forms part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ (CNMI), has long since touted casinos as a means to stabilise its economy and increase tourism.

However only 497 people had signed a petition of support despite casino supporters hoping they would attract 20 per cent of the 12,948 registered voters on Saipan or 2,590, the number required by law to bring the change in legislation.

Attorney General Edward Buckingham has given Dr. Jack Angello, who is leading the proposal, more time and submit a petition no later than 120 days before the November 6 election.
“Rather than formally certifying that you have not met the constitutional requirements, as a courtesy, I am giving you an opportunity to withdraw your petition. You would then still be able to submit a late-filed petition no later than 120 days before the next election,” the Attorney confirmed.
“We are asking people to support and sign the petition to help the CNMI economy,” Dr. Angello said.

Casino investors are believed to be keen on Saipan due to its infrastructure, its international airport with direct and connecting flights to Asia and the Pacific, as well as its existing hotels and golf courses. Earlier in the year, the state Senate axed a bill that would have allowed casino gaming in the island state. ROTA senatorial candidate Victor Hocog, said back then that senators ‘did not spend time to look into the bill and try to work on what they don’t like with it.’

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