Palau’s Toribiong vetoes casino bill
Thursday, 03 December 2009 00:00 By Bernadette H. Carreon - Palau Reporter
KOROR (Palau Horizon) — President Johnson Toribiong has vetoed the casino bill, describing it as a get-rich-quick scheme that will not benefit Palau.
In his transmittal letter to the Olbiil Era Kelulau, the national legislature, the president said the controversial bill was a rushed, confusing and not well-thought piece of legislation.
The measure stated that controlled gaming in Palau will diversify its tourism base and attract new investments.
“It is my belief that gambling will not augment our tourist industry, but rather will detract from the very reason that people choose to vacation here,” he said.
Its proponents said the bill contains provisions to protect the people of Palau from the dangers of compulsive and addictive gambling, but Toribiong noted that it does not prohibit Palauans from gambling.
He said the bill does not even require a state to consult the people through a referendum if they are in favor of a casino.
“A state government could permit a casino to be located in its state simply by passing a law. In any event, given the size of our country, the negative effects of gambling in one state cannot be limited solely to the state,” Toribiong said.
The bill, he added, appears to favor casino operators rather than the people of Palau.
He said it does not permit sufficient time to do a background check on casino license applicants and will pay members of the gaming commission “exorbitant money.”
The president said Palau should look into the experiences of Tinian’s struggling casino which opened in 1998.
He said the casino proponents’ expectations are not realistic as Palau cannot compete with the established casino industries in Macau, Malaysia or the Philippines.
According to Toribiong, the people of Palau should decide whether they want to legalize casino gaming in their country.