Commonwealth Casino Commissioner Martin Mendiola says the regulator’s budget will soon be zero.
Northern Mariana Islands.- The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) is rapidly running out of funds due to the uncertain future of its one licensee, Imperial Pacific International.
Commonwealth Casino Commissioner Martin Mendiola said the regulator is “at the finish line of its budget” and that the commission is “the real victim” of the federal court’s temporary restraining order that prevents it from pursuing the revocation of Imperial Pacific International’s exclusive casino licence for its failure to meet its obligations.
According to Mariana’s Variety, from an original team of 50, the regulator is down to just 10 employees. The commission is reported to have less than $300,000, which may last only until November.
Commission chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said the CCC’s dire financial situation “is something I feel I have to bring to the attention of the Office of the Governor.”
He said that IPI owed licence fee payments from August 12, 2020, to August 12, 2022, totalling $46.5m. He added that if IPI does not pay $3.15m in regulatory fees by October 1, it will owe an additional $9.4m in commissions.
In May, IPI said it had signed a memorandum of agreement with South Korea’s IH Group to secure funding to help it reopen its casino in Garapan and pay some of its obligations, including payroll and outstanding payables to vendors. However, so far there has been no news regarding the agreement between the companies.