Marianas Stars Pushes for Two Saipan Casinos

Two groups are bidding for Saipan’s sole casino license, and one of them, the owners of the competing Tinian Dynasty (l.) casino on neighboring Tinian island, wants Saipan to approve a license for both of them. Saipan officials say that’s out of the question.

Marianas Stars Entertainment, one of two companies competing for a casino license on Saipan, has called on the government to consider allowing both projects to go ahead.

The Hong Kong-based company, which last year bought the Tinian Dynasty resort casino on neighboring Tinian island, published an open letter in Saipan’s newspapers saying two licenses would promote competition and double public revenue.

Saipan’s legislature passed a law earlier this year to allow a single casino on the island, the largest of the western Pacific archipelago comprising the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.

The bill was passed over considerable public opposition to aid the cash-strapped government in plugging a shortfall in pension funding and providing a boost to the stagnant economy through tourism.

Gov. Eloy Inos said a two-casino approach would mean starting the whole process all over again, which could include throwing out the current bids from Marianas Stars and Hong Kong-based Best Sunshine International.

Ralph Demapan, floor leader in the House of Representatives, and sponsor of the casino bill, said changing the rules in the middle of the game would invite lawsuits and other problems.