CNMI on path to legalize online gambling

CNMI on path to legalize online gambling

The CNMI Senate passed on a 6-1-1 vote a bill that would legalize and regulate the creation of an online gambling industry on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

It was Representative Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero, a Saipan-based Republican, who originally introduced the bill. He argues that properly-regulated online gambling poses no greater risk to public health, safety, or welfare than the land-based gambling that has already been legalized. He also argues that this industry could provide a diversified source of revenue for the tourism-dependent economy.

In the Senate, the sole opposition came from Senator Paul A. Manglona, a Rota Democrat, who claimed that the entire point of the legislation was to assist a single company, Imperial Pacific International.

“How can you control it when you know that the vehicle that you’re going to use is about to fall down a cliff?” asked Manglona. After noting that the bill specifies that only a firm which possesses a casino license would be authorized to establish an online gambling service, he added, “There is no other casino license holder on Saipan. It’s IPI.”

Indeed, IPI’s contract with the CNMI awards to the firm exclusive gaming rights on the island, so presumably it is the only Saipan firm that could conceivably benefit from the law. Rota and Tinian, however, have no such exclusivity arrangement in place.

Senator Sixto K. Igisomar, a Saipan Republican, responded to Manglona by noting that IPI would still need to pass muster with the US federal government.

“There are so many federal statutes this company must overcome. So before we even worry, if you believe that IPI can qualify for it, they have to jump through the obstacles of the federal government on internet gambling to make sure that they qualify for it,” Igisomar noted.

As the Senate did make a minor amendment to the bill, it must return to the CNMI House of Representatives for final passage into law.

Related Articles

IPI likely to fail to meet Saipan casino construction deadline

Imperial Pacific International has a February 28 deadline to finish building the Imperial Pacific Resort but, as that date draws closer, it is now clear that IPI won’t be able to meet that deadline—a situation that Commonwealth Casino Commission Executive Director Andrew Yeom finds “alarming.”

IPI employees receive six weeks of back pay

Employees of Imperial Pacific International in Saipan have received six weeks of back pay that they had been owed, partially alleviating the crisis and clearing the way for the company to resume the construction of its facility ordered to halt by the court.

IPI found in contempt of court and ordered to stop all construction work

The US District Court for the NMI has ordered Imperial Pacific International to cease operations and all construction work for a week—except for the department working on payroll and security—after ruling in favor of the US Department of Labor in its petition to find IPI and Chairwoman Cui Li Jie in contempt.

IPI may hire former CNMI Senator as CEO

Imperial Pacific International has reportedly reached a verbal agreement with former CNMI Senator Ray N. Yumul to become its next CEO.
CNMI Turkish Workers

CNMI Representative appeals on behalf of stranded IPI workers

CNMI Representative Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) has taken up the cause of Imperial Pacific International’s stranded workers.
Ramona Manglona

Arrest of IPI executives may be on the cards

District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona Manglona is getting tougher with senior executives of Imperial Pacific International, warning that unless Chairwoman Cui Li Jie and former Chief Executive Officer Donald Browne show up in her court on the morning of January 21, she may issue arrest warrants against them.

Donald Browne quietly stepped down as IPI CEO in December

Donald Browne has told a federal court that he stepped down as the CEO of Imperial Pacific International in early December, though this was not revealed publicly. Browne had only assumed the office six months ago.

Almost half of IPI construction force must leave CNMI this month

Almost half, or 88 of the over the 200 construction workers of Imperial Pacific International, will have to leave the CNMI by the end of this month because their H-2B visas are expiring.

Xerox the latest firm to launch lawsuit against IPI

Imperial Pacific International is facing yet another lawsuit for its nonpayment of various contractors, workers, and others. This time, Xerox company is suing IPI for about US$183,000 for its failure to pay for services rendered and equipment rented.

IPI faces new lawsuit over unpaid bills

The proprietor of Fritz Pacific Project Development Services has filed a legal complaint against Imperial Pacific International for breach of a manpower staffing subcontract, seeking about US$745,000 in unpaid invoices.