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    Thursday, August 22, 2019-4:03:33A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Saipan delegation OKs bill to allow ‘co-location’ of poker arcades

THE Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation on Monday passed a local bill that would allow poker arcades to “co-locate” in the same building in designated areas.

John Paul Palacios Sablan

All the 16 Saipan lawmakers present voted in favor of House Local Bill 21-13.

Absent were Sen. Sixto Igisomar, Reps. Tina Sablan, Marco Peter, Ralph Yumul and Richard Lizama.

The Saipan Zoning Law of 2013 requires that all gambling businesses in residential villages to relocate to designated areas by Oct. 25, 2017.

The law also prohibits gambling businesses to operate within 200 feet from each other.

Introduced by House Floor Leader John Paul Sablan, H.L.B. 21-13 proposes to allow gambling machine businesses to “co-locate in the same establishment, and concentrate in the designated areas approved for gambling operation.”

The delegation’s Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, in its report, recognizes the difficulty in following the 200-feet rule once gambling establishments are removed from residential villages, saying it will “negatively impact our island’s economy.”

The committee also recognizes that poker fee collections are the source of Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance funding.

A similar local measure authored by then-Rep. Donald Barcinas was passed in the 20th Legislature, but was vetoed by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres who stated that “the author failed to get the Office of Planning and Development involved in drafting the measure.”