. Saipan Moves Closer to Removing Imperial Pacific Int’l as Casino Operator

The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) government is finally coming to terms with what the majority of the gaming industry has already known – Imperial Pacific International (IPI), which still holds exclusive rights to a casino in Saipan through the now-defunct Imperial Palace, is not a reliable member of the trade.

CNMI legislators made a trip to the Philippines last week to attend the ASEAN gaming summit, which took place from March 19-21. This summit offers an opportunity for conference attendees to learn more about the gaming industry in Southeast Asia.

What the lawmakers discovered, according to Kuam News, is that they might have been taken advantage of by IPI. As a result of their findings, “all bets are off,” and the casino operator may at long last lose its long-standing casino exclusivity.

IPI Considered Unacceptable by International Standards

Given the economic struggles the CNMI is experiencing, partially due to IPI’s negligence, the CNMI congressional representatives did not have to pay for their attendance at the ASEAN summit. This saved the US-controlled territory $2,500 but did not cover the costs associated with travel.

However, it was worth the expense. House Gaming Committee Representative Ralph Yumul commented that there was never a perfect time to invest money in a tight budget, but the legislators gained important insight to help the CNMI move forward.

Kuam News published a recording of the press conference held by the lawmakers upon their return. One of the most significant revelations was that IPI is “blacklisted in terms of international gaming,” according to the comments made by the lawmakers.

They did not go into greater detail about how IPI earned this reputation. However, the company’s own misdeeds in Saipan with Imperial Palace illustrate repeated incompetence and regular mismanagement that could only have caused permanent damage to its reputation.

I don’t understand why they are still sitting on this. I have no idea why. But I will tell you this, is there enough evidence, have they committed enough wrongdoings and mistakes to have that license revoked by now? A thousand times yes!,” said Vice-Chair Ed Propst of the House Gaming Committee.

Because of this disclosure, the CNMI government is seriously contemplating revoking IPI’s casino exclusivity. This has been a subject of conversation for months, but it had previously been considered “unconstitutional.” That may now change.

Beginning Anew

Ultimately, the CNMI may be ready to discard the old gaming plan and start anew. If it quickly moves to eliminate IPI, the government is sure that it has investors from places such as Taiwan and South Korea waiting to build infrastructure in Saipan and throughout the territory.

This would include revising the CNMI’s approach to gambling. Instead of a big integrated resort, there would be smaller operations with their own gaming rooms. Yumul added, “There will be no building of 2,000 rooms. That will not take place anytime soon.”

House Representative Marissa Flores extended the discussion even further. In addition to rewriting the gaming legislation, she believes that the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) needs to be restructured. Flores commented that the commission “did not regulate properly” the gaming industry.

She also said that it “failed to adequately comprehend” the consequences of introducing lax standards. These comments were a possible indicator of the necessity for a radical overhaul of the CCC.

The legislators did not include in their press conference what happens next. The good news is that they have finally seen the light, though, which is a huge step in the right direction.