I'll skip the arguments against casinos in general--the invitation to organized crime, the effect on morality and the family, the cost in social and safety terms, etc. Even if you think casinos are the quick fix that Saipan needs for its economy, you should vote NO on this Saipan Casino Act.
The Act's design does not contribute to its goal.
1. The goal is to attract tourists and boost the economy. The act creates a monopoly for casino operation. There will be no competition, no other investment companies raising the bar for better, cleaner, prettier casinos. One investment company will get the one and only license available to operate casinos in Saipan. In the states, Indian casinos get a monopoly on their reservations, but ONLY IF the state allows investment by anyone in casinos that operate in the state. There's no state-wide monopoly. (Indian Regulatory Gaming Act.) Competition fosters better services. If the purpose is to attract tourists, we would need the best services, the ones created by competition.
The act gives more in CNMI-funded benefits than it gets.
2. The money to be generated by fees and permits ($550,000 per annum) will be needed for the cost of the new regulatory commission created. (per annum--$336,000 for 7 commissioners; approx. $100,000 for the executive director and treasurer; approx. $100,000 for support staff, legal and computer/technical services; approx. $14,000 for power, water, telephone, internet, supplies like paper, pens, printer ink cartridges; and nothing for furniture and capital assets, space rental & maintenance, insurance, alarm systems, etc.).
3. The money to be generated by the gross revenue tax is less than the value of the public land lease given. The act says that MPLA has to lease public land to the casino for $1.00 per year. In the past, MPLA and its predecessors set rents for public lands at a percentage of gross revenue, and set those rents at a much higher rate than 1%. So the gross revenue tax is really just a cheap rent for the public land.
4. There's really nothing more for the public that the act generates, except fines and penalties.
5. The salaries/money for the commissioners, executive director, treasurer, and staff comes from the casino that they regulate. And under the act, these officials are allowed to have shares in the casino. How independent will such a regulatory commission be? How many fines and penalties are likely to generated?
The Saipan Casino Act violates the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the CNMI's equal protection clause, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.
6. The Investment Corporation must be owned solely by persons of Northern Marianas Descent (NMDs), meaning only NMDs can hold shares in the company, and act as its officers and directors. The Commissioners must be NMDs--with a guaranteed majority of Chamorros on the Commission. This discriminates against U.S. citizens and foreign investors who are not NMDs. It even discriminates against Carolinians among the NMDs. This is unconstitutional.
7. The executive director and treasurer must be NMDs. The Casino must give a hiring preference to NMDs (not resident workers, just resident NMDs). The Casino must give a management/training preference to NMDs. All of this discriminates in employment based on ethnicity and violates both U.S. and CNMI constitutions and the EEO act.
8. The money generated by the act, if there is any in excess of the costs, shall be subject to appropriation by the CNMI Saipan Delegation of the legislature, but there are restrictions on the appropriation: if the money is put toward social programs, the programs can only benefit NMDs. Scholarship money--only for NMDs. Elderly benefits--only for NMDs. Utility assistance--only for NMDs. This discriminates based on ethnicity and violates both the U.S. and CNMI Constitutions.
Why do we want a law that excludes lawful citizens and discriminates against them? When our Chamorro and Carolinian citizens go to the states, we don't want them to be discriminated against--we'll count on that equal protection guarantee for fair treatment. Why should it be different here? Why do we think a big, fat special interest law is the ticket to our improvement?
Even if you think casinos are the wave of the future for Saipan, the initiative on the November 2007 ballot will only cause problems. Vote No on the Saipan Casino Act.