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Sen. Sablan opposes 50% cut in casino license fee 

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SENATOR Vinnie F. Sablan on Friday spoke against the proposal of Imperial Pacific International to reduce its $15 million annual casino license fee by 50%.

“It is in the best interest of the people of the CNMI that the license fee remain the same,” he said.

On Thursday last week, he attended the meeting of the Commonwealth Casino Commission via videoconference.

He said he was pleased to hear the commission discuss issues and concerns regarding the status of the construction of the hotel resort in Garapan, as well as personnel concerns, including payroll, the severance pay of terminated employees, and assistance for furloughed employees.

Sablan noted that the commission also tackled other financial issues of IPI and the  casino license fee payment due on Aug. 12.

He said several compliance orders were likewise discussed during the meeting. 

The Senate Committee on Cannabis and Gaming, which he chairs, will schedule a meeting with the casino commission and the CNMI Lottery Commission to discuss these and other issues, he added.

As for Amendment #9 to the casino license agreement proposed by IPI, Sablan said, “I am aware that IPI has requested to meet with the CNMI Lottery Commission to discuss the proposed amendment,” which includes the proposal  to reduce the casino license fee by 50%.

Sablan said Public Law 18-56 Section 7, Article 3, Chapter 1, subsection 2306 (b)(1)(4) states, “the license fee shall not be reduced below $15,000,000.”

The senator added that only the Legislature — or the voters through an initiative petition — has the authority to change the statute via legislation. 

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