The Angaur State is not betting on casino, unless the national government passes a piece of legislation allowing gaming operations in Palau.
Gov. Kennosuke Suzuky, in an interview, said that although Angaur residents welcome casino investment the establishment of a casino in Palau, the national government will have the last say on its legality.
The issue of the casino was brought into the light anew after earlier reports that former Macau gambling triad leader, Wan Kuok-koi is planning to put money into a casino in Palau.
Suzuky said Angaur is open to casino but not until legislation is passed considering such activities legal.
“The people of Angaur welcomes investments, including casino and legalization of medical marijuana, but again the national government has the overall law on what will be passed in the end,” Suzuky said.
During the previous Angaur state administration, a resolution was passed welcoming casino establishment on the island.
Suzuky said Angaur State has been upfront with potential investors in the state, that casino remains illegal in Palau.
Earlier reports claimed Wan has purchased land on Angaur and has been given concession by Palau to establish a gaming operation here.
Suzuky, however, said while Wan indeed has approached the state proposing investments, including gambling operation; his government has advised him that such activity remains prohibited.
“But as of now, I and my team has advised him that casino now is not a reality. If he wants to do investment, he can look at other investment opportunities that are legal,” he told reporters.
Suzuky also debunked reports that Wan has purchased or leased land in Angaur.
He said Wan is still scouting opportunities in Angaur. Suzuky said while Wan has again visited Angaur last week, he has not leased land in the state nor has he opened a business there.
Early this year, Wan established a non-profit organization called Palau China Hung-Mun Cultural Association with named incorporators,Xiao Bowen, a national from Vanuatu and two Palauan nationals, Timothy Sinsak, Postmaster General and Airai Governor Tmewang Rengulbai.
The non-profit organization signed by President Remengesau on Feb. 25, 2019, stated that its aim is to “promote better understanding, acceptance, and exchanges of Palauan cultures and practices to the foreigners, especially Chinese people in or traveling to Palau.”
As a non-profit organization, the association is barred from engaging in any businesses in Palau.
Wan went to prison in 1999 on charges illegal gambling, loan-sharking, criminal association, and attempted murder of the chief of police in Macau. He was released from jail in 2012, after serving his sentence.
Some claimed however that Wan’s life of crime and violence is firmly behind him after serving time in prison. (Bernadette H. Carreon)