IPI and CNMI Seek Mediation on Ongoing Legal Battle Involving Imperial Palace Casino Through Third-Party Arbitrator

Imperial Pacific International (IPI) and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are trying to find a solution to their ongoing legal battle. This path involves seeking mediation through an independent arbitrator, with the process that is expected to determine the future of the Saipan-based Imperial Palace casino being currently underway.

Several days ago, the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the CNMI and IPI virtually appeared before an arbitrator for the first time. Executive director of the CCC, Andrew Yeom, informed the board of the regulatory body that the first status conference with the arbitrator was held via a virtual platform. He confirmed that the parties had summarized the issue and discussed the procedural rules and deadlines. Mr. Yeom revealed that the CNMI casino watchdog had submitted the requested documents to the arbitrator last November 16th to get things going.

Following the initially provided information on the matter, which probably included details of the roughly $100 million owed by the CNMI by the IPI, the two parties sent agenda items to the arbitrator on November 21st.

Mr. Yeom was unable to name the arbitrator but said that he knew he was an experienced attorney from the US. According to reports, Thomas J. Brewer is the case’s arbitrator.

NMI Casino Commission Has Its Costs Covered for Participating in the Court-Ordered Arbitration Process

The Government of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands is covering the costs for the local casino commission to take part in the court-ordered arbitration. Reportedly, it is spending $350,000 after the regulator recently acknowledged that it did not have any available funds. The debt resulted from the continued non-payment of dues and license fees of IPI.

As CasinoGamesPro reported, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted a preliminary injunction to Imperial Pacific allowing it to stop the Commonwealth Casino Commission from revoking its exclusive casino license. The order also permitted the casino company to exercise its right to arbitration which was part of its licensing agreement.

The arbitration process, however, has not been backed by everyone involved. For example, in September 2021, the board chair of the CCC, Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, stated that, in his opinion, the arbitration process does nothing but waste time and money, especially considering the fact that the decision of the arbitrator will not be legally binding. He, however, acknowledged that both parties need to accept it and follow the instructions of the judge.

Apart from the ongoing arbitration process, the IPI has only recently faced a theft in action at its Imperial Palace casino. On November 28th, a guard encountered two thieves at the casino venue around 1:15 in the afternoon, while they were trying to steal construction equipment and copper wire and almost got away with that. At the time when the guard surprised them, the two thieves had already collected approximately 140 feet of copper wire from electrical panels, as well as water heaters’ copper tubes.