Andrew Yeom says the Commonwealth Casino Commission now has only 12 employees including himself as financial woes bite.
Northern Mariana Islands.- The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) continues to hang by a thread. The regulator’s executive director says it now had just 12 employees including himself.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the CCC had over 50 employees but in June, the regulator announced 20 layoffs without cause to reduce operational costs. At the time, Yeom said the reduction represented 60 per cent of staff as some had already voluntarily resigned.
In August, the commission had 15 workers but last week enforcement and investigations chief Vince Babauta and compliance agent Marc Venus resigned from their positions. Earlier in September, Diego M. Songao, resigned as a commissioner, due to health reasons.
The news deepens the CCC’s crisis. It has warned that it will have to cease operations by April 2022 if it doesn’t get new funding. Yeom has said that if the government doesn’t approve the allocation of the available US$1m in casino licence fees collected from IPI in 2019, the regulator will have to shut down.
CCC seeks immediate revocation of IPI casino licence
Andrew Yeom has called for Imperial Pacific International’s (IPI) Northern Mariana Islands gaming licence to be permanently revoked. He says IPI failed to comply with the CCC’s final order in four enforcement actions that were entered over five months ago.
IPI’s gaming licence has been suspended indefinitely as the operator failed to comply with regulatory orders. The Commonwealth Casino Commission board ordered IPI to pay a penalty of US$6.6m, an annual casino exclusive licence fee of US$15.5m and annual casino regulatory fees of US$3.1m.
However, according to Yeom, the casino operator failed to pay the US$3.1m casino regulatory fee on Oct. 1, 2020, and subsequently on March 3, 2021. The company also failed to pay the US$15.5m annual exclusive casino license fee on Aug. 12, 2020, and subsequently on Aug. 12, 2021.
Yeom said: “Unfortunately, the very violations that triggered the suspension are still mounting while IPI has done nothing to indicate any willingness to come into compliance with the aforementioned final order.”