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Poker operators ask for license renewal extension, reopening of arcades

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SAIPAN poker operators, whose arcades have been shut down since April, are requesting the government to extend the deadline in renewing their poker machines.

Kyung Soo Lee, president of Golden Bird Corp., on Wednesday said the Department of Finance wants poker operators to renew their licenses on or before the renewal deadlines.

“While we understand that you may have suffered economic hardship as a result of the Covid-19, pandemic, applicable laws and regulations do not grant the Department of Finance the authority to allow for installment agreements or extend renewal deadlines; therefore, all license holders must renew and make the required license payments on or before their original renewal deadlines,” the department stated.

The annual fee is $6,000 per poker machine.

Hua Jin of Saipan Island Development and Ann Corporation, which operates 18 machines, said, “It is hard for us to survive because even though we’re not operating we still pay rent.”

 Businessman Kyong Soo Lee poses with other poker arcade operators on Saipan. Photo by Junhan B. Todino

Lee said once in a while, they also have to turn on their air-conditioning units and poker machines as part of maintenance.

Lee said if the government will allow them to reopen, they will comply with the current curfew hours.

He noted that at the reopened bars, “people sit close to each other, while in poker parlors, customers sit apart so why don’t they allow us to reopen? We will observe social-distancing and other safety measures.”

Lee said reopening all businesses, including poker arcades, will help stimulate the local economy.

He also believes that the Commonwealth should declare the island “coronavirus-free,” adding that the recent cases involve newly arrived travelers.

Lee said he and other poker operators are hoping to discuss their concerns with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres.

 

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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