Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom disclosed yesterday at a House Gaming Committee meeting that there are legitimate inquiries from potential bidders for a Saipan casino license in the event Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s license is revoked.
In response to Gaming Committee vice chair Rep. Christina E. Sablan’s (D-Saipan) question if he or the CCC has been approached by potential bidders for casino license, Yeom confirmed that he is getting inquiries.
“I cannot tell you who, how many. But yes,” Yeom said.
Sablan asked if they are deemed legitimate inquiries, to which Yeom replied, “Yes,” but that he can’t release more details as it’s too sensitive to talk about.
When asked if he has already shared information about potential casino bidders with Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Yeom said, “No.” He explained that he cannot be talking about the matter as IPI is still in play and it would be unethical for him to do so.
He admitted, though, he shared the information with the commissioners and others at CCC in order to instill a certain sense of confidence that this casino industry can exist or can continue if they do it correctly.
Yeom said their motivation is to go with the current licensee, IPI, and have it come into complete compliance and resolve all its issues. If that doesn’t happen, then they will go to the next level of possibly revoking IPI’s license, he added.
“I can comfortably tell you that there are bidders out there, whether legit or not. Yes, there are some legit ones. And I’ll stop at that,” Yeom said.
If all of IPI’s assets are liquidated, what will CCC do with the IPI casino/resort building in Garapan? Yeom said it all depends on whether IPI’s casino license is going to be revoked or not.
He said it is up to the Legislature whether they will pass another bill to allow multiple Saipan casino licenses at this point.
“Whether you want to just kill the industry altogether, that’s up to you,” he added.
Rep. Vicente Camacho (D-Saipan) said nobody really knows what to do with the unfinished IPI building, to which Yeom said that a new investor will probably have to buy the IPI building.
“There’s just no solution for that building. …I don’t know if anybody want to buy that building, it would be too expensive to fix it up,” Camacho said. “I think we should just kill it, and then we dynamite it,” then build a memorial for ancient burials at the site.
If and when the IPI license is revoked, is CCC going to play any role, Sablan asked. “Or are you doing anything now to examine the future of the industry for the Commonwealth and to assist the policy makers in determining what’s possible, what’s viable? What are options might be? Does the CCC have any role to play in that?”
Yeom said Public Law 21-38 gives CCC the power to issue the license. “If the license is revoked, certainly we have a role in this,” said Yeom, who then stated that he can’t get into hypotheticals now.
Sablan said even if IPI by some miracle comes into compliance and pay everything that they owe, there is still questions about the future viability of this industry.