The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) revealed that the ongoing safety issues at the unfinished Garapan-based casino-hotel of Imperial Pacific International (IPI) are actually not part of the regulatory body’s responsibility, so the Department of Public Works is not required to approach the Commission for permission to inspect the casino operator project’s construction site.
Early in May 2023, the Department of Public Works Secretary Ray N. Yumul addressed the CCC to get the regulator’s approval to inspect the Garapan-based facility of Imperial Pacific International and the tower crates that could be a potential danger to the public.
During a meeting that took place at the end of the month, Edward C. Deleon Guerrero (Chairman of the Commonwealth Casino Commission) and Ralph S. Demapan (Vice Chairman of the regulatory body) explained they currently have no authority over the safety of the construction site of the casino-hotel project. At the time, Mr. Depaman noted that he already held a meeting with the DPW Secretary and made the watchdog’s responsibility clear to him. Furthermore, he called for Mr. Yumul to consult with other government entities when it comes to the casino-hotel construction site’s safety.
As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, Imperial Pacific International was forced to cease its hotel-casino operations in March 2020 following the global Covid-19 pandemic outbreak and the Government’s restrictions associated with it.
Gaming Devices of IPI Are Part of the Department of Public Works’ Jurisdiction
As explained by the Vice Chairman of the Commonwealth Casino Commission, the watchdog is responsible for controlling some of the gaming devices of Imperial Pacific International, including the ones that are being sold out, because some of these items are still subjected to the regulator’s approval and feature the seal of the Commonwealth on them.
Mr. Demapan also shared that the Commonwealth Casino Commission is working with the remaining IPI’s security guards to make sure that the interests of the Northern Mariana Islands Government are protected when it comes to the controversial gaming devices.
On the other hand, the Chairman of the local gambling regulatory body explained that the Commission remains concerned about the fate of the gambling chips that are still stored in the casino’s cages. According to him, these chips are negotiable and are not subject to the receivership that has been ordered by the court. Furthermore, he noted that the chips in question are considered currency. Mr. Deleon Guerrero shared that, as soon as the Garapan-based casino resumes operation, the Commission will require Imperial Pacific International to notify persons who may have purchased the chips before the casino closure and were unable to redeem them.
The Chairman of the NMI gambling watchdog shared that there is currently a significant amount of chips remaining in the casino, and this was among the major concerns of the Commission, and not whether the building was safe or not. He highlighted the fact that the issue was and always has been within the Department of Public Works’ jurisdiction.