Industry Reports

Tinian Officials Greenlight Online Gambling Bill for Casino Licensees

On Friday, 22 September, the Tinian and Aguiguan Legislative Delegation approved an amendment to the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Act of 1989, authorizing online gambling on the island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and more precisely the island of Tinian. The bill was introduced by Rep. Edwin Aldan, who also suggested to amend the amount of casino license fee and tax rate. The bill was passed without any controversies and it is now waiting on the governor’s desk for his signature before it enters Tinian’s legal framework.

Rep. Edwin Aldan’s House Local Bill 20-30 was unanimously passed by the 4 members, which attended the Friday’s session, including Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas Tinian casino gaming control commissioner Joe Kiyoshi, attorney Kimberly King-Hinds and members of the municipal council. According to the recently-passed bill, all licensed casinos will be allowed to offer online gambling providing that they offer no less than 300 hotel rooms. Speaking of taxes, the interested operators will be obliged to pay an annual fee of $300,000 and 5% tax on their internet gambling revenue. Furthermore, the bill reads that the licensees will be also obliged to implement a geolocation software, aiming to restrict the online gambling activities to the borders, where it will be legal.

Many industry specialists commented that the tight restrictions will make it impossible for most of the present casino operators to qualify for online gambling casino license, as each of them fails to meet one or another aspect of all the requirements. They urged the lawmakers to consider relaxing the bill, making it more achievable for the casino licensees, which are currently present on the market. Otherwise, Tinian’s casino industry may appear in a situation in which the online gambling is regulated, but the casino operators have their hands tied.

Brief Look at the Currently Operating Casinos

Tinian’s casino industry is not as proliferating as its neighboring Saipan, but it is still worth the attention. It is interesting to note some of the leading casino operators on the island, as these are among the main suspects to apply for an online gambling casino license.

In 2015, the US financial regulator slapped a $75 million fine after revealing that the Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino failed to introduce an adequate and compliant anti-money laundering campaign. The Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino, which is currently owned by Tinian Entertainment Corp. (TEC), needed to suspend its casino operations, as it could not manage to pay the fine. In 2016, the company was acquired by Tinian Entertainment Corp., and the latter was required to pay the fine.

The other big casino operator is Bridge Investment Group (BIG). In 2016, the casino licensee launched an online petition in an effort to gain more local support for its proposed Tinian Ocean View Resort And Casino project. At present, the petition could not muster enough support.

The other big player on the Tinian gambling scene is the Macau-based Alter City Group. After receiving a conditional license in January 2016, the company held a groundbreaking ceremony in June. The construction of the casino resort was slated to start later in 2016, but currently the entire project is pushed back to a later date.