CCC holds monthly meeting despite suspension of operations

The Commonwealth Casino Commission suspended its operations a week ago due to lack of funds.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission suspended its operations a week ago due to lack of funds.

Acting commission chair Ralph S. Demapan said commissioners had to meet even without staff.

Northern Mariana Islands.- The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) has held its monthly meeting despite suspending its operations last week due to a lack of funds. Chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero was not present but joined the meeting via video conference along with commissioner Martin Mendiola.

Acting commission chair Ralph S. Demapan and commissioners Mario Taitano and Ramon Dela Cruz were present in person. Also in attendance was senate floor leader Corina L. Magofna, who chairs the Senate Committee on Resources, Economic Development & Programs and Gaming.

During the meeting, Demapan said commissioners were ready to work with the Palacios-Apatang government to find solutions to problems facing the islands’ gaming sector, including the lawsuit involving Imperial Pacific International.

He noted that on January 19, the committee received a copy of a memo from the governor urging the board members appointed by his predecessor to offer to resign.

Demapan said he understood that it is common practice to ask for a courtesy resignation when a new government takes office but cited Public Law 18-56, which states casino commissioners can only be removed with cause. He also said he believed the islands should not abandon the potential of the casino industry to generate revenue for the Commonwealth.

As revealed by Mariana’s Variety, the commission submitted a letter to former governor Ralph DLG Torres requesting funding to renew the contracts of nine employees for at least one year or until the dispute with IPI is resolved. However, the financial assistance did not materialise, according to Demapan. Dela Cruz has argued that the commission should also receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of IPI assets.

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Commonwealth Casino Commission