‘Arbitration with IPI just waste of time, money’


Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom listens to CCC board vice chair Ralph Demapan during the board’s monthly meeting at the Springs Plaza Building in Gualo Rai yesterday morning.

Commonwealth Casino Commission board chair Edward C. DeLeon Guerrero said yesterday that in his opinion the arbitration process with Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is just a waste of time and money.

DeLeon Guerrero stated during CCC board’s regular monthly meeting at the Springs Plaza Building in Gualo Rai that either side whoever prevails, the other would appeal to the Superior Court.

He said the arbitration decision is non-binding, but nevertheless it’s a process that they need to accept and need to follow and comply with the federal court’s order.

“I’m hoping that in the future should this be resolved, any gaming operation, if it violates any gaming regulations or law, that the CCC should have the say on it and not other courts, particularly the federal court,” the chairman said.

On Aug. 24, 2022, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona granted IPI’s request for a preliminary injunction against CCC to prohibit the commission from revoking IPI’s exclusive casino license.

Manglona issued the order to allow IPI to pursue its right to arbitration. She ordered CCC to participate in the arbitration process.

Arbitration refers to a procedure wherein two parties agree on one or more arbitrators to make a decision in their dispute in order to resolve a disagreement outside of court proceedings.

DeLeon Guerrero said arbitration is part of the Casino License Agreement provision that grants IPI the right to arbitrate disputes.

Unfortunately, he said, the cost of arbitration must be equally shared between IPI and CCC.

The chairman said CCC does not have the funds for the arbitration so he and executive director Andrew Yeom went and met with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Attorney General Edward Manibusan, CCC’s legal counsel, and the chief of the OAG Civil Division to discuss what they need to do.

DeLeon Guerrero said they then subsequently met the governor and requested for assistance in covering at least half of the costs for arbitration.

He said they followed up with a letter to the governor, describing how much funds they need and when they need it.

“We will be discussing that later in the executive session as to what transpires there,” the chairman said.

DeLeon Guerrero said in his personal opinion based on the agreement and the law, arbitration should  never have been part when it involves gaming-related operations.

He said he can understand the arbitration when it involves a non-gaming portion of the Casino License Agreement.

“But the judge has spoken and we need to follow and we need to comply with the arbitration,” DeLeon Guerrero said.

He said the other very disappointing part is that this is a non-binding arbitration.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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