Saipan casino process halted by court

    The Superior Court in the Northern Marianas has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the government from making a decision on a license for a $2 billion casino project on the island of Saipan, according to reports.
    The order was granted by Associate Judge David Wiseman on request of Marianas Stars Entertainment, one of two bidders for the license. The company said it would have been irreparably harmed without the order, without giving further details.
    Marianas Stars Entertainment and Best Sunshine International are both seeking a license and have submitted a $1 million non-refundable application fee, a completed application and business plan, and paid a $30 million deposit.
    The casino project is also facing opposition at home, with anti-gambling protesters seeking to gather enough signatures to force a referendum aimed at overturning the bill that legalized casinos on Saipan.
    The bill was passed late last year as an initiative to help generate revenue to fill a pension-funding shortfall.