The Commonwealth Casino Commission just got more powerful with the recent enactment of a bill that clarifies and enhances its powers, including the authority to issue a casino license.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres also signed into law a bill that will increase the fees of the Office of the Registrar of Corporations under the Department of Commerce.
Under the new Public Law 21-38, the casino commission, not the Finance secretary, shall establish and maintain a CCC regulatory fee fund that is separate from the government’s general fund. As an autonomous agency, the commission will also determine its own staffing levels. It is also granted the authority to issue a casino license, a power that used to be with the CNMI Lottery Commission.
In an earlier interview, CCC board chair Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, said the original bill, House Bill 21-11, would strengthen the casino commission’s ability to enforce the mandates of the original gaming law, Public Law 18-56, and would clarify and removes some of the ambiguities.
Then-vice speaker Rep. Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) introduced the legislation in 2019. The Senate passed the bill with amendments in March 2020.
In raising Commerce’s fees under Public Law 21-37, the new fees are $150 for filing of the Articles of Organization; $150, Articles of Incorporation; $250, application for reinstatement following administrative dissolution; $250, application for certificate of authority for foreign corporation; $50, application for amended certificate of authority, among other several fees.
Rep. Joseph Lee Pan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) introduced the bill in 2019, saying these fees have been stagnant since the enactment of Executive Order 97-03 in 1998. Since then, Guerrero said, there has been an influx of businesses in the CNMI.
The Saipan Chamber of Commerce had asked Torres to veto the bill, saying business owners and entrepreneurs are exhausted and overwhelmed at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.