US court dismisses poker operators' lawsuit – Marianas Variety

06 Dec 2017

By Bryan Manabat – [email protected] – Variety News Staff

THE federal court dismissed, without prejudice, a lawsuit filed by poker operators over the implementation of a zoning law. “Without prejudice” means that the lawsuit can be filed again.

Sin Ho Nam, principal shareholder of Winnerslife Inc./Sin Ho Development Inc., and Dan Bi Choi LLC sued the CNMI government, the Zoning Board and its chairman, Diego Blanco, in his official capacity.

In dismissing the case on Monday, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona also denied the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorney Robert T. Torres while the CNMI government was represented by Christopher Timmons, civil division chief of the Attorney General’s Office.

The plaintiffs sued over the implementation of Saipan Local Law 18-5 which gave them until Oct. 25, 2017 to relocate their poker arcades to designated commercial zoning districts that are also at least 200 feet away from any church, public or private school, park or playground.

The lawsuit was originally filed in Superior Court but was moved by the Office of the AG to the federal court, saying the case alleged violation of due-process rights, and one of the plaintiffs’ immigration status hinges on the result of the case.

In her ruling, the federal judge said “the zoning law at issue provides a safety valve that will allow an entity operating in a nonconforming zone to avoid civil fines or other sanctions.”

She said “any entity may apply for an extension of its existing license while it assesses where and how to relocate to a conforming zone.”

She said the plaintiffs have done just that but whether the Zoning Board will approve

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