8 Aug 2016

Concern in Marianas about casino rush

6:40 pm on 8 August 2016

There are more signs of community concern about a large casino development in the Northern Marianas.

Saipan, CNMI

Saipan, CNMI Photo: Supplied

Best Sunshine International Limited is developing a $US 550 million casino resort on Saipan, with the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas increasingly seen as an attraction for Asian gamblers.

A concerned Marianas citizen, Leila Staffler, said it would be ideal to have more input from the local community about large-scale developments like this.

She said she felt this casino development had been rushed through without full consideration.

"I'm not trying to stop anything. I just feel like, ok, now that it's here, we have to manage it appropriately. So we should tax it appropriately, we should make sure that we have the infrastructure and also the social structure to help mitigate the negative factors of these kinds of developments like addiction and things like that."

Leila Staffler also questioned whether Saipan had the capacity to manage the added waste which the new casino would create.

Saipan airport, CNMI

Saipan airport, CNMI Photo: Free google search image

While it is building its new resort in the CNMI, Best Sunshine is operating a temporary casino in a duty-free mall on Saipan.

According to local media reports, this temporary casino has been attracting a bevvy of Chinese high rollers wagering more than $1.5 billion a month at the facility.

Local businesses near the casino said that the influx of cash had been good for the local economy.

However Ms Staffler felt that casino developments were happening too fast for the Marianas.

"I like development, but I also think it's important to plan and plan ahead," she said.

"And I feel like we need to slow down a little bit and make sure that everything we're deciding is in the best interests of our people so that we have something to look forward to for our children."

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