CNMI reaches out to online gaming operators

The Northern Mariana Islands is exploring online casino options.
The Northern Mariana Islands is exploring online casino options.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) wants to reach out to online gaming operators in case its proposed Internet Gaming Act 2021 is finally approved.

Northern Mariana Islands.- The CNMI wants to hear the opinion of potential online gaming operators regarding House Bill 22-47.

Andrew Yeom, Casino Commission executive director, said: “Internet gaming can be a great thing for the Commonwealth if done correctly.”

According to Mariana’s Variety, Yeom said: “I can assure you there are many ways to go about it. But I am not the one to tell how the operation is set up because I am not here to give that information…. I am here as a regulator.”

In June, Yeom warned that the CCC was running out of money and that the $2m it received from the CNMI government wasn’t enough due to the indefinite suspension of Imperial Pacific International‘s licence. The casino regulator has announced 20 layoffs without cause due to the crisis.

Representative Tina Sablan has raised concerns about the proposed Internet Gaming Act 2021, arguing that internet gaming could lead to an increase in money laundering.

Sablan also noted that the bill had been requested by Imperial Pacific International (IPI), which is currently facing the indefinite suspension of its gaming licence. She claimed it would only benefit the casino operator.

She said: “There are serious concerns that are raised by this internet gaming bill that were concerns in the last legislature. Those issues have not gone away and they are the subject of investigation right now.”

However, former vice-speaker Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero has argued online gaming has no greater risk and could help generate revenue for the CNMI following the closure of the casino industry for many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Potential bidders interested in Saipan casino licence

Yeom has said that several bidders have shown interest in operating in Saipan if Imperial Pacific International’s licence is revoked.

Yeom said he expects IPI could resolve its issues but that if that doesn’t happen, he will advance with the possibility of revoking IPI’s licence. Asked about IPI’s building in Garapan and what would happen if IPI’s assets are liquidated, Yeom said it would depend on whether IPI’s casino licence is revoked.

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