Investors eye Rota casino plans

Rota – Three as of yet unidentified foreign investors are eying the early steps officials here are taking to develop a casino gaming industry, yet progress on that effort appears to have stalled for now as the local government awaits funding from Saipan.

„There are at least three investors that have already expressed their interest in a casino here,“ Diego Songao, chairman of the Rota Casino Gaming Commission said in a Wednesday interview. „As far as naming those three, I still need to see their actual proposal before I do that.“

The prospective investors, said Songao, include firms from Japan and Korea.

Since Rota’s leadership won approval from voters to let casinos open on the island, Songao added, the commission has begun crafting regulations for the industry to follow and interviewing consultants to help them put the rules into action. A draft regulation is already complete-based in part on the rules for casinos on Tinian-and the commission has started holding early talks on how to amend it.

„We want to put up a regulation that is amenable both to the people of Rota and the casino operators themselves,“ he said. „We’re trying to make a strategy here that will include some of the interest from the investors themselves.“

Yet progress on finalizing the regulations for the moment has stalled as the commission awaits the arrival of a USD 450,000 loan it received recently from Saipan’s legislative delegation. The money will pay for the hiring of a consultant and related expenses.

„Everything is on hold right now,“ said Songao. „As soon as we have the money, we can hire a consultant and develop this with the investors. They need to see the regulations before we can do more.“

Meanwhile, he added, none of the commissioners involved in the effort has received any payment for their work.

„None of the commission has been paid,“ he said. „We’ve contributed a lot of materials and things ourselves because we want to see this industry move.“