CCC chair Edward C. DeLeon Guerrero has argued that IPI should lose its casino licence if the operator is not financially viable.
Northern Mariana Islands.- Commonwealth Casino Commission chairman Edward C. DeLeon Guerrero has said that the regulator would continue to exist were it to revoke the licence of the Northern Mariana Islands’ sole casino operator.
In an interview with Mariana’s Variety, he said: “The CCC has the authority under Public Law 21-38 to issue another licence so it’s not like it’s game over.”
He added: “If things don’t work with Imperial Pacific International, we can still figure out a way to make the gaming industry a viable industry here in the Commonwealth.”
In July, the CCC filed an opposition to IPI’s motion for a preliminary injunction that prevents the regulator from revoking IPI’s casino licence. It made the move due to continuous delays on a possible agreement with IPI to avoid such a decision.
The regulator expects the preliminary injunction to be lifted by the federal court so that the issue will return to them. The CCC will then have to reschedule another evidentiary hearing. “It goes back to where we started, and that’s addressing the five complaints against IPI seeking revocation,” DeLeon Guerrero said.
He said: “Obviously, we are all interested to see these things work out – not everything in life has to be resolved in court. If there’s a way to settle, save the industry, and have them pay their obligations, that, in my opinion, is a preferred route. No one is interested in simply revoking their license, but we are proceeding because we are the regulatory agency as called for by the law.”
According to CCC attorneys, the basis of IPI’s initial motion is that Section 30 of the Casino Licence Agreement (CLA) requires arbitration, or an alternate resolution outside court, for its force majeure defence.
IPI now has only seven security guards in Saipan
Of the 17 security guards that Imperial Pacific International maintained in Saipan, ten are no longer on the books having either been fired or stopped working due to payment delays.
If IPI still fails to pay security guards next Friday, it will be their fifth week without pay. IPI has reportedly paid its debts with construction workers, except for Jess Aquiningoc, the former head of Imperial Pacific International’s construction team, who has sued the company.
According to Aquiningoc, IPI owes him paid leave that he has accumulated over the past two years. He said he had to borrow money and go into debt with family and friends as a result.
A week ago, IH Group chairman Kyunam Kim and other company officials toured Imperial Pacific International‘s casino, 15 luxury mansions and the unfinished hotel complex in Garapany. He promised that work will continue and that the project will contribute to the Northern Mariana Islands’ economy.
In May, IPI reported 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. IH will take over operations of IPI’s casino and luxury villas and has pledged to continue building the hotel complex.