The suspension of Imperial Pacific International’s casino license and failure of the operator to pay its annual fees appears to have placed the future of the Saipan’s gaming regulator in jeopardy.
According to a report by Marianas Variety, CNMI Secretary of Finance David Atalig revealed last week that providing funding for the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) was low on the government’s priority list given the year-long closure of IPI’s Saipan casino due to COVID-19 and recent suspension if its license.
As reported by IAG, the CCC last month ordered the indefinite suspension of IPI’s casino license for failure to comply with multiple requirements under its license agreement, including payment of its annual US$15.5 million license fee last August and its annual US$3.1 million regulatory fee in October.
The absence of those funds has now left the CCC with a major shortfall, however Atalig stated last week that the regulator was not high on the list of priorities to receive any of a US$515 million rescue package set to be provided by the US government.
Atalig did promise that all employees of the CCC will be paid, however with Imperial Palace • Saipan still closed, he noted there was currently no obvious job description for commissioners to follow.
“We’ll make sure that employees of the CCC are getting their payroll, but we also need to focus on what their priorities are knowing that there is no casino operating at the moment,” he said.
IPI has been given six months to repay both the US$15.5 million casino license fee and US$3.1 million regulatory fee, as well as a US$6.6 million fine, or risk having its license revoked.