NMI senator pushes to open up casino licences on the islands

Currently, only Imperial Pacific International has a licence on the islands.
Currently, only Imperial Pacific International has a licence on the islands.

Senator Paul A. Manglona says he has sent two letters to senate floor leader Vinnie Sablan pushing for action on Senate Bill 22-23 to remove IPI’s exclusive licence.

Northern Mariana Islands.- In a new letter addressed to senate floor leader Vinnie Sablan, Paul A. Manglona, a member of the Senate’s minority bloc, has again called for progress on Senate Bill 22-23. The bill would end Imperial Pacific International’s exclusivity as the only casino licensee on the islands.

Manglona also requested urgent attention be given to Senate Joint Resolution 22-01, which would request governor Ralph DLG Torres instruct the representative of the Planning and Development Advisory Council to “immediately deliver a report” on casino projects to the legislature.

In his letter, Manglona said: “It is evident that IPI has not, cannot and will not honour its obligation to its employees, contractors, vendors and the CNMI following the Casino License Agreement.”

He added: “Mr President and Floor Leader, while you were fixated on finding $1,000 for a holiday bonus, you spent the past 16 months ignoring the need to identify funding for the 25 per cent of our retirees’ pension that is entirely dependent on the casino gross revenue tax. 

“Once again, I implore you to act on Senate Bill 22-23 and Senate Joint Resolution 22-01 so we can proactively address this impending crisis.” 

IPI’s licence was suspended by the Commonwealth Casino Commission due to the casino investor’s failure to meet its financial obligations. Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has extended a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the regulator preventing it from holding a hearing on permanent revocation until midnight on July 8. 

In the coming months, IPI is scheduled to pay its annual casino licence fee and annual casino regulatory fee. If it doesn’t, its debt to the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) could rise to US$55.9m. IPI still needs to make annual licence fee payments that were due August 2020 and August 2021 and the annual casino regulatory fee is due October 2020 and October 2021. Together they total US$37.3m.

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GAMBLING REGULATION Imperial Pacific International IPI