Casino developer Bridge Investment Group LLC (BIG) is attempting to use public opinion to push forward its stalled casino project on the island of Tinian which is a part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). The petition has so far gathered 201 signatories.
BIG is building a $130 million Titanic-themed casino resort on the island after receiving a conditional gaming license from the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission (TCGCC) several years ago.
The casino complex is coming up in the vicinity of Tinian Harbor’s commercial ports.
The project has however been stuck for a long period of time as a result the government failing to issue it a master siting permit. According to regulatory authorities, the project fails to meet the required technical criteria of conducting port-related activities.
BIG has pointed out that its project must be considered port-related since it has a terminal which will be used for passengers to land and also includes a hotel that will accommodate them. However, there have been no clarifications forthcoming from the government on its specific objections and also on what it considered to be port-related activity.
Frustrated with the lack of progress, BIG posted a petition last week on www.change.org, seeking support for its project. The petition has pointed out the many benefits from the project including associated economic benefits like better connectivity. According to BIG, the company has so far spent more than $10 million on its project since 2014 apart from the $3 million spent on relocating existing warehouses and offices that had been situated on the project site.
The developer has put forth a petition highlighting the fact that the project is in compliance with requirements of various government departments including the Department of Public Works, Historical Preservation Office, Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality, Coastal Resources Management, as well as with the provisions of the Department of Public Land Conveyance.
The company currently has on its rolls over 80 local employees who are drawing an average salary of $9.50 per hour, much higher than the $6.55 per hour which is the minimum wage for the area. The total monthly payroll for the company is $160,442.
BIG has stated that if the government agency in question, the Coastal Resources Management refuses to issue the permit, it would have to let go of several employees and discontinue ongoing programs dependent on its payroll budget, the annual $500,000 conditional license fee and its average monthly operational expenditure of $190,000.