Saipan delegation passes bill to amend e-gaming fee hike law | News

The Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation on Wednesday passed the final version of Bill 22-28 to amend the controversial local law that doubled electronic game license fees.

All 17 members present voted to pass House Floor Leader Ralph N. Yumul’s Bill 22-28, which now goes to the office of Governor Ralph DLG Torres.

Vice President of the Senate Justus, Representatives. Tina Sablan, Sheila Babauta and Yumul were excused.

House Local Bill 22-28 is the product of a series of discussions between the delegation’s gaming committee and officials from online gaming companies MP Holdings LLC, which operates Saipan Vegas in Chalan Kiya, and Mariana Entertainment LLC, owner of Club 88 in Garapan. . The committee also considered comments from the Office of the Attorney General.

Prior to the roll-call vote, Gaming Committee Chairman Rep. Edwin Propst offered ground amendments to “improve and clarify” the title of the measure: “To Amend Saipan Local Law 22-6, Section 101(a) to restructure the local license fee imposed on all poker entertainment machines located at online gaming facilities or hotels and electronic gaming devices as defined in Title 6, Section 3154(a) (4) and 6 CMC, Section 3156(b), located in the Third Senate District.

This wording was also inserted into section 101 of the bill, imposing “an annual local fee on all poker entertainment machines located in electronic gaming facilities or hotels, electronic gaming machines or electronic tables as defined in Section 6 CMC 3154 (a)(4), and on such machines and games located in a Hotel pursuant to Section 6 CMC 3156 (b), in the Third Senate District, equal to 2,000 $ per machine.

SLL 22-6 was passed by the Saipan delegation without holding a public hearing and was signed into law by Governor Ralph DLG Torres in August 2021.

Citing the ‘adverse effects’ of the law, the two remaining electronic game businesses on the island said they may have to shut down and put their employees out of work due to an economic downturn and the Covid pandemic. -19.

MP Holdings and Marianas Entertainment also sued the government and sought a temporary restraining order from the court.

For his part, Superior Court Judge Kenneth L. Govendo “strongly encouraged” lawmakers and online gambling operators to “discuss it and see if there is room for compromise before returning to court.” “.

Recently, MP Holdings chief executive Bart Jackson voiced his support for Bill 22-28, saying it was a “well thought out” measure.

He thanked the delegation, saying they “have been very receptive to the comments and concerns of operators throughout the process”.

Propst, for his part, thanked Jackson, Attorney General Edward Manibusan, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang and Northern Islands Mayor Vicente Santos Jr. for submitting comments.

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