Bad timing for additional tax says commission

Representatives of the Commonwealth Casino Commission in Saipan have told the House of Representatives that imposing an additional 10 percent tax on casino gaming revenue is not appropriate at this time.

According to the Marianas Variety, the commissioners told lawmakers that before acting to impose an additional tax on the casino to “take a moment, step back and look at the horizon,” pointing out the fees already being paid by Best Sunshine, including an exclusive license fee, gross gaming tax, the BGRT and regulatory fees.

Executive Director of the Commission Deleon Guerrero said while he was not defending Best Sunshine, it was important to note that aside from the various fees, the operator also purchases goods and services from local vendors; has paid $10 million for the residents’ utility bills; and will spend $170 million for the construction of its Grand Mariana Resort Hotel in Garapan.

Guerrero said a 10 percent additional tax may not be prudent at this time.

“Let’s give them a year after the Grand Mariana is completed,” Deleon Guerrero told the lawmakers.

However, Rep. Edwin K Propst argued that Best Sunshine is the sole casino license holder, and the $15 million license fee is paid for exclusivity and is not a tax.

Best Sunshine’s investment and the increase in tourist arrivals are credited for reviving the local economy which had been in a slump since 1998.