6 Jun 2013

CNMI lower house passes casino gambling bill

9:37 am on 6 June 2013

The CNMI House of Representatives has passed a bill legalising casino gambling on Saipan by a vote of 13-7 last night.

The vote didn't come until after most members defended their stance on the casino bill which its proponents claimed would save the dying NMI Retirement Fund, while others insisted it was a "slap in the face" to Saipan voters who had already rejected similar proposals twice.

The house bill now goes to the Senate which only two years ago voted down a similar proposal twice.

Floor leader Ralph Demapan, who was the main author of the bill, says times have changed.

He pointed at lawmakers who were previously strongly the bill but are now supporting it as the NMI Retirement Fund is less than eight months away from collapsing unless a massive cash infusion is pumped into it.

Eight other House members co-sponsored the bill, and say this time the Senate will pass it.