Andrew Yeom, Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director, was invited by House Gaming Committee Chairman Edwin Propst to discuss the possibility of online gambling with lawmakers.
Northern Mariana Islands.- The debate continues on the Northern Mariana Islands’ proposed Internet Gaming Act 2021. Andrew Yeom, Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) executive director, has now given his views to the House Gaming Committee at the invitation of Edwin Propst, committee chairman.
Before sharing his views, Yeom clarified that he was only “trying to lay out the facts” and insisted on the need to examine the bill’s “pros and cons.” However, he said that allowing online gambling could bring up to 2.1m online users annually.
A few weeks ago Yeom predicted gaming revenue from 2025 onwards could be approximately US$450m. However, Propst said he wants to be cautious regarding the possible costs of regulating online gambling.
He said: “We were promised a US$7bn industry by Imperial Pacific International, and fast-forward to today, the casino commission is in need of US$1m to continue to operate.”
Representative Tina Sablan, who had previously raised concerns about the proposed Internet Gaming Act 2021, asked Yeom which overseas gamblers would be able to place bets online in the CNMI.
According to Mariana’s Variety, Yeom said online gamblers could be located in the islands or not, but gamblers overseas would only be able to place bets from countries where online gambling is legal.
Sablan then asked Yeom whether his predictions assume that offshore gamblers from countries where online gambling is legal could legally place bets in the CNMI, even though the Federal Wire Act prohibits certain types of gambling businesses in the United States.
Yeom said the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit had ruled that the Federal Wire Transfer Act only applies to sports betting and does not apply to other types of online gambling.
Sablan made reference to China’s blacklist and the possibility of being blacklisted for Chinese tourists if online gambling is approved.
Yeom said the islands’ would not allow online gamblers from China or wherever gambling is illegal. He said: “There is technology that provides geolocation mechanism to deny access to off-shore gamblers who are in countries where gambling is illegal.”
Rep. Celina Babauta said she doubted if the figures provided by Yeom were realistic, to which Yeom answered: “I can’t guarantee these numbers either. These are potential numbers. It could be met or it could be wrong.
“I cannot…guarantee these numbers. These are a kind of visualization of what the potential revenue could be…. Don’t think that this is how it’s going to be or how it will be exactly.”
Yeom agreed with the committee that an internet gambling operator should be brought in to share its views.