Imperial Pacific gaming licence decision postponed following settlement proposal

Jenny Ortiz 1 month ago
Imperial Pacific gaming licence decision postponed following settlement proposal

The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the Northern Mariana Islands has announced April 22nd as the deadline for reaching a settlement agreement with Imperial Pacific International (IPI) regarding its gaming licence. Following extensive discussions, the CCC and the Office of the Attorney General were unable to reach an agreement during a four-hour session. 

Outstanding debt issues  

IPI faces allegations of owing approximately $62 million (€57.7 million) in casino licence fees to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), spanning nearly four years of annual fees. The failure to resolve this debt has intensified discussions regarding the fate of IPI’s exclusive casino licence. 

According to Saipan Tribune, a proposed settlement suggests IPI would pay a discounted amount of $6.8 million (€6.3 million) on its unpaid regulatory fees from 2021, 2022, and 2023, along with a discounted US$2 million (€1.8 million) penalty. It will also pay $1.1 million (€1.02 million) on October 1st for its 2024 regulatory fee, with the remaining US$2 million (€1.8 million) deferred until August 30th, 2039. IPI’s licence was suspended in April 2021. 

If accepted, the proposal states that the CNMI will not seek to amend legislation to allow multiple casino licences on Saipan, and IPI will withdraw lawsuits against the CCC and Governor Arnold Palacios.  

Saipan Tribune also quoted IPI director Howyo Chi saying, “This is basically our last-ditch effort to make this work. If IPI, for some reason, defaulted on any of those terms, there’s no turning back. It’s gone forever.” 

Postponed deliberations 

The CCC commissioners postponed deliberations on whether to revoke IPI’s exclusive casino licence, citing the inability to reach a settlement agreement. Executive Director Andrew Yeom emphasized the significance of reaching a settlement for the CNMI economy and the gaming industry. 

Legal complexity hinders progress 

Despite efforts to reach a settlement, legal complexities surrounding IPI’s debt position have impeded progress. Last-minute negotiations revealed that the draft settlement was deemed legally insufficient by the Attorney General’s office, adding further uncertainty to the situation. 

The decision day on April 22nd will determine the fate of IPI’s gaming licence, with uncertainties prevailing regarding the outcome of negotiations. While the commission leans towards a settlement, the possibility of licence revocation looms if an agreement is not reached. 

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