Northern Marianas parliament takes further step towards Saipan casino
The Northern Marianas parliament has taken another step towards a controversial move to approve a casino for Saipan.
The House of Representatives has pre-filed an entirely new measure legalising casino operations on the island, the fourth piece of legislation of its kind to be introduced in four years.
Each of the previous bills has been rejected by the Senate in one form or another, amid strong public debate and dissatisfaction.
The floor leader of the House and author of the bill, Ralph Demapan, says the government has recently had to pay into a retirement settlement fund, which should motivate it to allow the casino to prop up the fund.
Mr Demapan says pensions have been cut by 25 percent, and government health insurance premiums have increased, on top of other public health services, and it's highly probable the new measure will stick this time.
The proposed Saipan casino licence requires a 30 million US-dollar payment upfront, and 15 million US dollars every year thereafter until the duration of the license.