TDHC faces suspension of casino license

‘Dynasty may have avoided $75M fine if it complied with Tinian Gaming Act’

The Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission may have no choice but to deny the casino license application of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino’s new owners.

“Mega Stars [Overseas Ltd.]…they have not completed the application process and, in fact, have refused to continue to cooperate in that process. Therefore, the commission has no choice but to suspend their suitability application,” TCGGC executive director Lucia Blanco-Maratita told Saipan Tribune.

She added that, due to the various violations of the Dynasty, a complaint and order to show cause why their license should not be suspended or cancelled has been filed and the hearing will be held on July 1.

Maratita also said that the commission continues to work with Tinian Dynasty in addressing their issues relating to “non-compliance” and the many challenges it faces with respect to the federal government, including issues with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services.

“However, the commission requires compliance and cannot compromise the requirements of the [Tinian] Gaming Act, especially with respect to the integrity of the gaming industry, integrity of gaming operations, and integrity of persons involved, such as applicants and licensees,” she said.

Earlier the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network—FinCEN—assessed a civil penalty in the amount of $75 million against the owner of Tinian Dynasty for “willful and egregious violations” of the Bank Secrecy Act.

Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments, owner of Tinian Dynasty, failed to develop and implement an anti-money laundering program to ensure ongoing compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act.

“Perhaps if the Dynasty was fully compliant with the Tinian Gaming Act and its regulations, the Dynasty may have been compliant with FinCEN requirements and the April 2013 raid may not have happened,” Maratita said.

The fine was a result of what was uncovered in a raid that was conducted on Tinian Dynasty in April 2013 by the Internal Revenue Services and other federal agencies. They found that Tinian Dynasty did not file Cash Transactions Reports (CTRs) and Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and did not have an anti-money laundering program.

Requirements to file CTRs for $10,000 and over, SARs, and an anti-money laundering program are based on federal laws and regulations, specifically the Bank Secrecy Act and its regulations.

“I believe that the Tinian gaming law and regulations provide much of the needed protection in ensuring the integrity of gaming operations…I began working for the commission after that incident [the raid] on May 5, 2013, so I really cannot tell what the commission did pre-2013,” Maratita.

However, Maratita said that what they have done since is that the commission directed her to work on compliance with Tinian Dynasty, especially due to the recent IRS raid and ensure that the laws are being followed.

As a result, the commission began focusing on making sure that the licensing requirements were followed both in licensing their vendors and employees.

“In addition, the Dynasty was also directed to have an operational review conducted in order to determine the extent of their compliance per the Gaming Act and then to develop an action plan on how to bring about compliance,” Maratita said.

As a result of the review, numerous deficiencies were discovered and because Tinian Dynasty didn’t have a competent casino management team, it was directed to hire a company to assist in ensuring the casino received the direction it needed to work on corrective measures addressing the deficiencies.

“A primary component of these measures include an anti-money laundering program. The Dynasty has since employed the services of Spectrum Gaming and they have begun evaluating compliance issues and should be coming up with a compliance action plan very soon,” she said.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com.

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