CCC: no funds for arbitration with IPI

The Commonwealth Casino Commission
The Commonwealth Casino Commission

Commission chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero has asked for funding for the court-mandated arbitration.

Northern Mariana Islands.- The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) has said that its economic problems mean that it doesn’t have the funds to cover court-mandated arbitration with the casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI).

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted IPI’s request for arbitration in its dispute with the CCC over its force majeure defence for non-payment of casino licence fees. However, commission chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero said the CCC has turned to governor Ralph DLG Torres to ask for funds.

Deleon Guerrero did not mention the amount needed but said the committee would discuss it in an executive meeting. He noted that the casino licence agreement with IPI expressly states that the force majeure defence does not apply to revocation proceedings involving gaming-related violations.

He said the committee must comply with the federal court order but that he believed non-binding arbitration would be a waste of time and money because since whoever wins can still the matter to court.

IPI, which shut its casino in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, now owes over $9m in unpaid regulatory fees and $46m in unpaid license fees.

In August, Commonwealth Casino Commissioner Martin Mendiola said the regulator was “at the finish line of its budget” and that the commission was “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. 

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Commonwealth Casino Commission Imperial Pacific International