Operators urge changes to N. Mariana islands e-gaming licence fee

A new local licence doubles the licence fee of e-gaming machines.
A new local licence doubles the licence fee of e-gaming machines.

MP Holdings says it has been forced to close one of its venues, resulting in the layoff of 30 employees due to the e-gaming licence fee.

Northern Mariana Islands.- Mariana Entertainment and MP Holdings have asked the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation to amend a new law that doubles the islands’ e-gaming licence fee

The law signed by Gov Ralph DLG Torres imposes an additional fee of 15 per cent on all electronic gaming devices on Saipan, including machines located within e-gaming facilities or hotels.

MP Holdings says it has had to close its Club 88 venue in Garapan, laying off 30 workers as a result.

According to Mariana’s Variety, Gus Noble, MP Holdings consultant, warned that if the fee is not amended, the remaining video game halls on Saipan will also close and another 40 local workers will lose their jobs.

Bart Jackson, MP Holdings and Mariana Entertainment general manager, said: “In an effort to find a compromise solution to the harsh effects of the newly doubled licence fees on e-gaming machines, I have asked the Saipan delegation to lower the licence fee

“My opinion is that the new licence fee, without a change, is harsh and unreasonable.”

He proposed a compromise of a $500 increase on the per-machine licence fee.

A week ago, the companies, via attorney Michael W. Dotts, stated: “A declaratory judgment is necessary to determine the rights and obligations of the parties as to whether the licence fee can be lawfully assessed.

“This is necessary and proper at this time so that Plaintiffs can confirm their rights and obligations as a licence holder. It is also necessary so that Plaintiffs can establish as a matter of law that Defendant has no right to collect the licence fee.”

The bill to increase the fee was proposed by Rep. Ralph Yumul, the brother of the CEO of Imperial Pacific International, a direct competitor to the slot parlour, which the e-gaming operators say causes a conflict of interest.

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