Imperial Pacific International, the Saipan-based casino investor, revealed that its local subsidiary Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), has addressed the Superior Court of the country with an administrative request to conduct a judicial review into the decision of the Commonwealth Casino Commission of the Northern Mariana Islands to indefinitely suspend its casino operating permit.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission suspended the gambling operator’s license back in April, after receiving a number of complaints against the company for its failure to stay in line with certain requirements under its license agreement.
The complaints were associated with the failure of Imperial Pacific International to pay its annual license fee worth $15.5 million in August 2020, the failure to pay its annual regulatory fee worth $3.1 million in October 2020, as well as the failure to stay in line with the minimum capital requirement of $2 billion. Furthermore, the Saipan gambling operator did not contribute the $20 million it owed to the community benefit fund in both 2018 and 2019 and failed to comply with the regulatory body’s order to pay the entire amount it owed to its vendors.
At the time, the gambling company was given six months as of April 2021 to repay the casino license fee and its regulatory fee, both totaling $18.4 million. Imperial Pacific International also faced a $6.6-million fine or the possibility of having its operating license revoked.
Vast Range of Compaints Results in Imperial Pacific’s Casino License Suspension
Late on June 15th, Imperial Pacific International issued a statement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, saying it had addressed the Superior Court of the country, asking it to review the gambling regulator’s decision to suspend the company’s operating license indefinitely. The company cited the differences between the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s and its own opinion over the annual license fee payment, considering the impact that the coronavirus pandemic outbreak had on its operations.
The casino at Imperial Palace Saipan has been shut since March 17th, 2020. International flights into the country are also suspended, with this seriously affecting the tourism sector, hence the operation of the casino venue.
The gambling operator explained that under the force majeure clause of its Casino License Agreement, it is not required to pay its annual license fee whenever a natural disaster happens.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission, however, has started disputes and alleged that the coronavirus pandemic is not categorized as a natural disaster, so the force majeure clause is not applicable in this case. As a result, Imperial Pacific International has decided to file a request for a review with the Superior Court of Saipan, asking the Court to come forward with a decision on whether the Covid-19 pandemic constitutes a national disaster so that its casino license agreement’s force majeure clause applies.
For the time being, it remains unclear whether a Superior Court’s ruling in favor of the company would result in lifting the license suspension considering how vast the range of complaints against it is.