No wages or taxes from troubled Tinian casino | Pacific Beat

No wages or taxes from troubled Tinian casino

No wages or taxes from troubled Tinian casino

Updated 17 July 2013, 11:31 AEST

Not all casinos are a licence to print money, with the Tinian Dynasty in deep financial trouble.

The casino has not paid staff for a couple of months, has not paid its Municipal taxes and is fighting off a bid by a U-S attorney general to seize the $100 Million casino and hotel because of regulation violations.

The Mayor of Tinian, Ramon De La Cruz is fighting on three fronts to try to save the casino wihich is Tinian's biggest employer.

He's trying to change some regulations, to expand the airport to allow international charter flight to land, and to interest new investors in buying the troubled casino.

Mr De La Cruz says the whole community is suffering because the casino is struggling.

Presenter:Brian Abbott

Speaker:Ramon De La Cruz, Mayor of Tinian, Mariana Islands

LA CRUZ: First of all let me just say that Tinian is pretty isolated with the rest of the most populated areas throughout Asia and thus we have a big challenge in trying to get players to come to Tinian. There is no direct flight operating from any destination in Asia directly to Tinian, so everything that flies into the Northern Marianas flies to Saipan. The customers have to jump on a smaller plane to come to Tinian. This has caused major, major problems on the way the Tinian Dynasty is run. Another issue that has really affected our gaming industry is the downturn in the economy throughout the region. So there's a lot of challenges, Dynasty business model is very, very different from other gaming jurisdictions. And as such I have taken an initiative to put together a casino taskforce to look into the position of our Gaming Act to maybe recommend some changes on some of the out-dated positions so that we can make Tinian a more competitive gaming jurisdiction in the area.
ABBOTT: Surely the fact that Tinian wasn't on the end of any international route would have been known when the casino was built. Was it built too big or is it just in the wrong place or can you save it through tourism?
LA CRUZ: Well it has stimulated our tourism industry to some extent, but like I said because of the downturn in the Asian economy which has greatly affected our tourists arrival, one good thing that is currently happening now is that I have two very interested investors; one from Hong Kong Macau and another one from Taiwan that are interested in acquiring the next part of the Tinian Dynasty casino, and we are currently under negotiations, so hopefully with a new infusion of capital and with an entirely different business model, maybe we can revitalise, maybe stimulate our gambling industry to the extent that it's going to be more profitable.
ABBOTT: What effect is the casino's failure to pay wages for a couple of months having on the community in Tinian?
LA CRUZ: Oh my goodness, you can hardly imagine the tremendous setbacks that have affected the community. My office is not able to pay employees wages on time. And to make matters worse employees of the hotel and casino have not been paid for the past I believe eight to nine pay period over the wages. We're working with the investors to see if they can bring that thing up to date.
ABBOTT: How are the families surviving having not received any money for eight weeks, nine weeks?
LA CRUZ: Tinian is a small community and we learn to survive from subsistence farming and fishing among other things, so life here is not that too expensive and they've learned to survive through other subsistence activities, and in addition in our effort to try to stimulate the gaming industry here I'm working very closely with the central government and Governor Inos in trying to prepare our Tinian airport to be able to receive international charter flights from any Asian destination, so hopefully this thing will start rolling soon and we'll be able to get back on our feet.
ABBOTT: What about the legal action that's going on at the moment with the US government threatening to seize the whole casino because it hasn't abided by some of the regulations that it should have?
LA CRUZ: That's another big challenge that the potential investors are looking into, although some of them think that these things can be rectified. It's before the court now and I don't know what will be the end result of this issue. Hopefully the courts will be able to resolve this in due time and be able to get back to running a casino business. It's a way and see situation.
ABBOTT: Are your new investors waiting to see what happens with this court case before they commit money to the Tinian casino project?
LA CRUZ: No they are proceeding with the negotiations in the acquisition of Dynasty. These two investors for some reason they told me that they had corporate officer in the United States that are already negotiating with the IRS on some of the violations that supposedly Dynasty has committed. So these guys are doing due diligence and trying to look and see whether their investment is going to be viable here.

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