The coming of House Local Bill 20-21, doubling the license fee for poker and pachinko machines, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang said it might be too sudden. According to him the measure passed didn’t give the poker arcades in residential villages enough time relocate to their permitted operating zoning districts, no later than October 24, 2017.
Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero introduced the bill, which will increase the license fees for each machine from $6,000 to $12,000. A scholarship program of the Saipan mayor’s office, Saipan Higher Education Financial Assistance is funded by the poker license fees.
The mayor told they supported the bill only to support SHEFA program as this would increase the revenue collections and receipts. The scholarship programs help students pay a portion of their fees and living expenses as they pursue their post-secondary education.
The idea of the proposed increase is to encourage the growth which is correlated with education, but this was no reason to raise the license fee, according to Apatang. The proposed tax hike would be very expensive for most of the poker-arcade operators. It will further discourage operators of adult gambling machines, and they may shut operation which can have an adverse impact on the entire cycle which ultimately benefits the students.