Concerns that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands could potentially be one of the countries on a blacklist of gambling tourism destinations recently announced by mainland China has “nothing to do with us,” according to the CEO of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, Donald Browne.
China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism revealed in August that it had established a “blacklist” of overseas tourist destinations it said were disrupting the nation’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers.
According to its statement at the time, the blacklist system for cross-border gambling tourist destinations would see travel restrictions imposed on Chinese citizens going to overseas cities and scenic spots named on the blacklist.
Exactly which locations the statement referred to were not revealed, although it has been speculated that the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia loom as likely targets.
The issue was also raised this week by Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, Chairman of the CNMI’s Commonwealth Casino Commission, who expressed concern that such a ban on visitors to the region would have a huge impact on both gaming and tourism as whole, according to the Saipan Tribune.
It would also serve as yet another blow to embattled Saipan casino developer IPI, which is already struggling to service its debts after suspending casino operations in March due to COVID-19. However, in response to questions from Guerrero, Browne said, “it really has nothing to do with us because there was already gambling here before.
“They (China) wouldn’t make the determination [to place CNMI on a blacklist] just based on these things.”
Browne stated his belief that China’s main concern is the wiring of money overseas for gambling purposes, the Saipan Tribune said.