Monday, October 1, 2007

CasiNO or CasiYes?

Well, it looks like I was a day late and a dollar short on the whole reward or ransom thing as Turbitt’s post was a day earlier and everything that could possibly be said about the issue has pretty much been hashed out, so check it out over there if you wanna see what people had to say. (Though there was another letter to the Marianas Variety editor from the uncle of the girl who found “Jake” and another letter which offered some rebuttal from Kate Busenkell of PAWS) Meanwhile I’m on to my next conundrum, that of the much debated casino initiative.

First let me say that I am a registered voter here and I do take this decision seriously but I am completely undecided as to whether I should vote CasiNO or CasiYES. That’s where you come in oh persuasive (or should I say argumentative) and enlightened (or should I say self important) members of the blogosphere. Really though, I honestly want to hear what people out there have to say on this issue and I don’t mind if you feel the need to post namelessly so long as you make a valid point and don’t do so just to be anonymously asinine.

I find it interesting how for months all we had heard and seen by the roadway was “Vote Saipan Casio” , bumper stickers exhorting us to “Vote Yes To Casino” or letters to the editor singing the praises of our coming savior the casino initiative. But all of a sudden in the last week or so we’re seeing this rather determined push by the self proclaimed CasiNOers, led by none other than one of the CNMI´s most prolific unofficial columnists, Ambrose Bennett. Now, finally, it’s getting interesting.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to the CNMI Public Arena were in this corner we have Saipan’s own pimp daddy Ambrose Bennett weighing in for the CasiNOers with Jane Mack cheering from the sidelines. Meanwhile across the ring stands the rather solitary figure of Pedro R. DeLeon Guerrero President of the CNMI Indigenous Entrepreneurs Inc. Though Mr. Vicente M. Sablan does toss him some support in Tuesday’s Variety.

Pedro “The Gambler” Guerrero came out swinging early with a few well placed letters to the local papers promising that a “Saipan casino will lift the islands' misery” and that “the benefit of establishing casino industry on Saipan will outweigh that of the Tinian casino.”

But the second round has gone to Ambrose “Common Sense” Bennett with his catchy CasiNO campaign which has been blitzing island roadways along with his most recent letter to the editor decrying the CasiYESers as cheaters who hit below the belt by vandalizing said road signs.

Well, that’s the bell signaling the start of the third round and it’s still anybody’s guess as to who’ll come out on top. So it’s time for you to weigh in CNMI public, who are you rooting for and why, I’m a blank page, the quintessential undecided vote and I’m listening…convince me.

Casino Quote of the Day:

“There is a very easy way to return from a casino with a small fortune: go there with a large one.”

-Jack Yelton


Jeff said...

You can't be in the blogosphere and talking like an outsider about bloggers and our "self importance." That's even more bullshit than Bush talking about "those folks in Washington."

You're in or out!

Bryan said...

I was just attempting to encourage folks, myself included, to be somewhat introspective and ask ourselves, are we being persuasive and enlightened or are we just being argumentative and self important when we comment? I did not mean to leave myself out but what I would really like to focus on here is whether I should vote Yay or Nay to the casion. You seem as though you´d have some persuasive and enlightened thoughts on that so what do you think Jeff?

Jeff said...

Well the term is loaded with negative connotations. Some are going to lead, some are going to follow, some are going to comment, and in some regards all those roles are self appointed. If no one said anything, no one would be out there offering ideas to chew on, so I personally think a lot of people are offering a valuable community service and being good citizens. Some people use it negatively, but some people use most anything negatively. It's hardly a perfect world.

Tamara said...

A lot of information regarding the act can be found on that site.

Bryan said...

Thanks for the link Tamara, that´s definitely one for the NO´s, are there any blogs for the YESers out there?

Anonymous said...

an easier address to remember:

email me if you have any questions

and don't forget to vote "no" on the "Saipan Casino Act"

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Great write-up Bryan. Don't let Jeff get to you, he may not realize that not everyone blogs w/ the goal of achieving 50 comments, 35 from he and one other person, per post.

Three reasons why I'll be voting NO unless soon convinced otherwise;

1. Why would you vote for a licensed monopoly? Isn't the pleasure of having CUC, MCV (no NFL last Mon. morning) and Continental enough torture to bring that realization? That's not capitalism, it's protectionism.

2. If you were to draw this business plan in the sand, you would have a straight line with revenues on one end and the government on the other. In the middle would be a line coming from the main line, which would end at the Indigenous Entrepreneurs. Also, nothing is set in stone as to where the money ending up w/ the government would be applied to but you can bet there'll be a feeding frenzy for that cash if this passes and if history repeats itself, it won't go where it should go.

3. At least one of the founders of the Indigenous Entrepreneurs has a fairly questionable, past background when employed by or contracting with the gov't. Do your own research there.

Jeff said...

My goal in blogging is hardly comments Randy, I'm just not letting Bryan get away with comments about the self importance of bloggers while he blogs himself, usually mentioning me.

glend558 said...

Check out the poll on my site, right under my pic. 100+ voters

Bryan said...

Jeff- I in no way intended to call you personally "self important"

Randy- Thanks for the comment, you make some good points. I tell you I really think this initiative is going to have a hard time with all the No's I'm hearing out there. Plus it requires such an overwhelming majority for it to pass, as it stands now, I just don't think enough of the community is behind it.

Lapa said...


He has, also, translated into Portuguese the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith.

He has been awarded several prizes.

Don't forget the name of this great author, you'll be hearing of him soon.

Thank you for spending time in Universal Culture.

Thanks for visiting.

Very nice profile.

Anonymous said...

while on the subject of the Saipan Casino Act,
some more great editorials have been posted on

Anonymous said...

Plato Says:

October 13th, 2007 at 6:59 pm

Here is the Saipan Casino Act. Why don’t we all take a few days to sit back and read it thoroughly? If anyone has specific comments or questions regarding various provisions in the act then let us cite them and post them here.

As it stands now this conversation is losing focus.

The debate should not be about whether casinos on Saipan are a good or bad thing.

The debate and the question voters must answer is “Whether THIS SAIPAN CASINO ACT is good for Saipan?”

By voting “Yes” to the SAIPAN CASINO ACT what are you voting yes to?


Does it outright allow casinos to operate on Saipan? No. It does not create a free casino market that will allow individuals to apply for casino licenses. It limits this ability to one for profit business: NMDIC. That business has the sole right to decide, on their own without public opinion or governmental oversight whether to allow a casino to operate.

By voting “yes” you as a member of the community, a voter, a citizen give all of your power to influence and regulate this industry to one company: NMDIC.

On the opposite side of the spectrum there is also no cap what so ever on how many casinos can be established in Saipan. The only catch is that the casino must have 200 rooms (no indicator of what kind of rooms, what size, etc.). If NMDIC decides so Saipan could potentially have 100s of casinos the same way we now have hundreds of poker arcades.

NMDIC will be entrusted fully by your “yes” vote to act on all Saipan residents behalf. Who is NMDIC? Should we as voters entrust this huge responsibility to them?

The act does create a Commission that is solely responsible for oversight of NMDIC. Why was it done this way? Why not create a commission that has the right to decide who can apply and receive a casino license? By writing the NMDIC (a for profit corporation) into this Act it has taken away the ability of the Commission to properly function. Should there be any issues that arise between the Commission and the NMDIC a stalemate can ensue. If the Commission feels that NMDIC is not operating properly or if NMDIC for some reason abuses their license there is no saving clause in the ACT that allows the commission any ability to revoke the Sole Casino License.

What if NMDIC goes belly up? What if they have a falling out? What if they come under personal litigation? As a voter ask yourself why does this ACT specifically grant a perpetual license to 1 FOR PROFIT CORPORATION. Are you willing to grant such power to one Corporation that has no proven track record within this market? No proven track record in any industry? One Corporation that may not even be in existence right now (I can not find anything about this corporation online)?

Lets use another example and see if this makes sense to everyone. What if our government or us as voters were told that we could grant 1 Bar Operation License to Porky’s. This license would allow Bruce Bateman and his company Porkeys the sole right to choose to allow what and how many bars could apply through him to operate Bars on Saipan. We also gave Bruce the ability (without restriction) to lease ALL PUBLIC LANDS for $1 dollar. We also did not put any restrictions on what purpose this land would be used for and we also did not limit his ability to sub-lease it to other bars for any amount he sees fit. Does this sound good to anyone? Does it sound like it is the right way to attract Bar Investors to the CNMI? Use any current Saipan industry (hotels, restaurants, wholesale, etc) and apply the provisions of the SAIPAN CASINO ACT to them and tell me if it makes any sense to you. I tried and it makes no sense to me.

If the voters want to embrace casinos as a viable industry for Saipan, this SAIPAN CASINO ACT is not the proper way to do it. We as voters are being pushed into grabbing at this measure. We are being asked not to focus on the SAIPAN CASINO ACT itself. We are being told that this will save our economy. The proponents of this act can not truthfully state that. We have never had this type of Monopoly set up in any industry in Saipan in the history of our Commonwealth. We have never granted a sole perpetual license in any industry to one corporation (spelled out specifically in the law with no provision for altering it). We have never given one corporation access to ALL PUBLIC LANDS for $1 lease for eternity or until the corporation goes belly up. WE have never given away leases to public land for $1 with no stipulations in place and spelled out as to the use of this land. By embracing this ACT and voting “yes” what are you voting “yes” to?

One may say that DPL must issue the lands to NMDIC. One may say this is the sefegaurd. If this is so then what a field of corruption we are creating. Garapan School looks like great land for a Casino. Can NMDIC ask for that Public Land? Can NMDIC get it issued to it by paying off DPL? Can NMDIC lease Garapan School for $1? Can NMDIC sublease it to Tan for $3 million dollars? Can Tan subdivided the classrooms into 200 cubicles and can they constitute rooms? This is perhaps a far fetched scenario but if the ACT does not prevent this then do we want to say “yes” to it?

Why not just legalize casino gambling. Create a Commission (of publicly elected members) to regulate it. Allow them the rights to assign licenses to operators. Why NMDIC????

Some will say that NMDIC will benefit everyone because all NMDs will have the right to own 1 common share ($500 cost). So if you think this means you will make a lot of money when NMDIC becomes successful ask yourself how? If you fork out $500 and buy a share, what does that promise you as stated in the ACT? Nothing. There is no promise of Dividends. Microsoft is doing very very well. Microsoft has never paid a dividend to its common shareholders. You may say that you can trade the common stock for profit. This is not true either. You will never be able to sell that common stock for more than $500 because any NMD at any point in time can buy a common share from NMDIC for $500. What use is this $500 investment then? The common stock is a ploy to make NMDs feel as if they would personally benefit from the NMDIC without specifically putting in place regulations to ensure that the shareholders benefit.

What of preferred stock? You can buy up to 25,000 shares of preferred stock. But you will never be able to sell that off to anyone other than other NMDs thus greatly lowering its value. What return is NMDIC promising you in the SAIPAN CASINO ACT?

Again why NMDIC? When you vote “yes” to the SAIPAN CASINO ACT you are doing nothing more than voting “Yes” to allow the creation of a very skeptical Monopoly.

This is not about Casino Gambling. This is about what is truly right for Saipan.

Anonymous said...

Plato Says:

October 13th, 2007 at 7:14 pm
Will it eliminate Poker?

There is no indication what so ever in the SCA that eliminates poker parlors. Ask anyone to show it to you in the SAIPAN CASINO ACT. It does not exist.

The Proponents of the SCA say that by voting “yes” you will kill the poker industry.

Is this true?

They say that that the casinos will take away the poker parlor customers thus depriving them of their source of income. They say this will lead to the shut down of the poker parlors. That is their own thinking.

The same Proponents however state publicly that the Casinos that are allowed to operate will NOT TARGET LOCAL MEBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY. They say that the casinos will be for Tourists. How many Tourists frequent Poker Arcades? Practically none. If the casinos will be filled with tourists what would stop the local population from going to the poker parlors? This argument holds no water. The if the proponents truly believe that they will not have local members of the community spending their hard earned dollars in the Casino then they would have to agree that the Poker Parlors would not be harmed and the two gambling places (poker and casino) would operate together peacefully.

Let us assume that the Casinos do attract local residents. Let us say that they pull all the poker players into the casinos and the poker parlors shut down.

Is this a positive?

Right now poker is limited to certain types of machines. There is also a limit on how many machines Saipan can have. The Casino lift that restriction. There will be no cap on how many poker machines and other gambling machines Saipan can have. Look at the Tinian Casino. 2/3 of the Casino is Poker Machines, Slot machines and other electronic gambling. Do we really believe that saying yes to SCA will eliminate the problems we see with poker?

Let us be honest. Either way it goes it will not. We had problems with poker since they arrived. We limited it at the time and had problems. We lifted the cap and the problems got worse. By voting yes to SCA you are doing nothing more then once again lifting the cap and this time just fully removing the cap completely.

Push aside the hype. Ask questions. Don’t believe what is being shoved at you. Question me. Question everything.

Plato Says:

October 14th, 2007 at 1:25 am

“Saipan Casino Act - Article III - Section 8:

Public Land. The Department of Public Land (DPL) or any future entity responsible for the administration of public lands in the Commonwealth, upon this Act becoming law and at the request of the NMDIC, shall issue public land to NMDIC. NMDIC shall hold leasehold interest to all public land issue by DPL and pay one dollar ($1.00) per year for the land or lands issue by DPL for as long as NMDIC is in business. The land or lands issue to NMDIC shall not be transferable. Upon dissolution of NMDIC, the land including all improvements shall revert back to DPL or its future named entity without cost.”

NMDIC, a for profit corporation, will have all the legal right to claim all public land for $1/year? No limitations?

The SCA states directly that upon the request of NMDIC the DPL must issue public land to NMDIC. Where is any clause that prevents NMDIC, a for profit corporation from taking advantage of this?

Where does it state in the SCA that the public lands requested and issued to NMDIC must be used for Casino Purposes?

Where in the SCA does it state any limitations as to what public lands can be requested from DPL?

Does DPL have the right to deny Public Lands that the for profit company NMDIC requests? If so, where is that written in the SCA?

Do you want to give your public lands to one for profit Business for $1/year?

Where are the safeguards? Where is the legal jargon that keeps this provision from being abused?

Who wrote this SCA? Would any of the proponents of the SCA please find out who penned this Act? Would you please ask them what legal background they have? Was this Act ever passed through any legal counsel?

I have only begun to look at the provisions and I have already come across a multitude of reasons that I can not for the life of me or my children feel comfortable voting yes to this Saipan Casino Act.

I am open minded.

To the proponents,

Please help me answer all of the questions I have posed in my posts. Do not argue about the issue of Casino Gambling in general. Do not tell me about the plight of the CNMI and our economic woes. Do not tell me about the Casino Success stories in other areas of the world. Educate me on this Saipan Casino Act. Read it and see if you can truly alleviate my many concerns.

To all thinking of voting “yes” to this act, please remember that this is an initiative that can not be changed by an act of our legislature. Once the SCA is passed it is untouchable by our local representatives. If we overlook a clause (any of the ones I mentioned above) and our Public Lands are put in Jeopardy, Our taxes our wasted away on a commission and no casinos, NMDIC turns out to be a useless operation with no real ability to secure a casino investor, and many other possibilities, Changing or amending even one small part of this Law will be impossible without a local initiative.

In other words, if there is any part of this SCA that we find out in the future is not beneficial to Saipan we must go through all of this again. 20% of the population must sign a petition, then a local election must be held and 2/3 of the population must vote in favor of the amendment.

Is that sane? We are embarking on a journey through unchartered waters. The SCA has many many questionable clauses. There is much ambiguity. Many facets of this Act are not specific. To say the least there are many legal arguments and challenges that have already been raised to the constitutionality of this Act. Do we really want it to be so set and binding? So inflexible?

Remember we are dealing with our public land. We are dealing with our home. We are dealing with our childrens land. We are dealing with our childrens future.

Question everyone. Do not take them at face value. If someone tells you to ignore these questions do not follow their advice. If the proponents tell you this act will feed your family ask the “How?”. Ask them to cite it in the SCA. The ACT does not promise to feed your family. The act does not promise to give you a job. The act does not promise to pay you money for your purchase of stocks.

The Act does nothing more than set up a questionable monopoly for a company called NMDIC. The Act does nothing more than force our taxpayers to pay for a commission in the neighborhood of $1.6 per year for an unknow period of time.

This act will cause the loss of Government Jobs. This Act will further burden our crippled government. This act promises to cost us taxpayers more money and and has no writen promise of economic gain.

Help me understand why anyone would be in support of this SCA. Remember this is not about Casino Gambling this is about this Saipan Casino Act.

The only person I cna see with a reason to support this Act would be a person who will be given a Commission job or a member of the company NMDIC.

Is it really worth it to the community as a whole? Are we being lied to yet again? Are we going to do nothing but line the pockets of a few with our own hardearned money? They promise us riches. How? Show me where that is stated in the SCA. They promise that this is a solution to our woes. They are not being truthful. We need to see this. We need to question them. We need to ask for proof.

Plato Says:

October 14th, 2007 at 1:44 am
Enough with the propoganda. I get enough of that from my government as it is. I am a voter and I demand facts and analysis. If you support this Saipan Casino Act tell me you have read it. Tell me you fully understand its provisions. Tell me you are familiar with the company called NMDIC. Tell me have full faith in them. Tell me you can prove that this will not cost the CNMI more money and plunge us further into this hole. Tell me that this does not put our Public Land at risk. Tell me that the CNMI government will not be burdened with countless litigation if this is passed.

Don’t tell me about pie in the sky promises. Don’t tell me that this will save our island. Tell me how and show me where it is stated in the SCA.

We need to change how we operate here in the CNMI. We need to be more alert to what is going on. We need to take some responsibility for where we are at. We need to look at the black and white. We can not take people on their word alone anymore. We have had enough lip service.

The proponents are playing on our fears. They are using fear tactics to get this passed. They don’t argue the merits of the SCA they say that there is “nothing better”. That is no argument. Forget everything else look at this SCA. What is good about it? What problems will this cause us?

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