Two American investors are reportedly interested in operating a Saipan casino as told by the head of the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of CNMI. The Saipan Tribune reports that Andrew Yeom, the executive director of CCC, has been contacted by two New Jersey investors.
Online and Land-Based Operations Are Being Considered
The New Jersey investors reportedly want to explore both land-based and online casino operations from the CNMI, but there’s no exact confirmation on which casinos the investors want to put their money in. Rumors are circulating that the Imperial Palace Saipan is included in the discussions.
This establishment was closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. To make things even more complicated, IPI’s license was suspended by the CCC in April 2021 for failing to meet requirements under its license agreement.
There were a total of five sections in which IPI did not meet its license requirements. First, it did not pay the $15.5 million annual fee, it did not contribute $20 million to the benefit fund of the community in 2018 and 2019, it didn’t pay the money that it owed to the vendors, failed to pay the $3.1 million annual regulatory fee in October and finally, it didn’t comply with the $2 billion capital requirement. IPI’s negligence came at a cost as the company was also forced to sell assets in order to pay off the debt.
Edward DeLeon Guerrero, CCC’s chair, stated that IPI’s license will be suspended until the company complies with the requirements and the regulator is scheduled to have a meeting in May to determine the progress and ultimately, whether IPI’s license will be revoked permanently.
Yeom Claims That the Investors Are Legitimate
Yeom was the person who prompted IPI’s license suspension and he noted that this specific license is exclusive and noted that the New Jersey investors are legitimate. Due to the exclusive license, Yeom stated that he’s not in a position to talk about the developments, at least not until IPI’s situation is resolved.
If IPI was to lose its license, Saipan could issue more licenses in the future. After all, two Senators have urged Northern Mariana Islands’ Commonwealth to introduce new legislation that would allow the Commonwealth Lottery Commission to issue a second license if IPI’s license is revoked.
There are two bills that are introduced to the Senate and one of them states that the CNMI should take the chance to revise rules and improve the gambling industry if IPI’s exclusive license is revoked. The whole situation now depends on whether IPI will pay off the casino license fee ($15.5 million), the regulatory fee ($3.1 million) as well as the $6.6 million fine.