‘We invited the fox into the henhouse’


So IPI is asking to renew its casino license. Even though it can’t pay the license fee. It can’t even pay its employees, nor pay its other bills.

What happened to that seven-billion-dollar project IPI was building on Saipan? It looks like IPI now doesn’t even have a few thousand dollars for a court judgment. 

And the Commonwealth Casino Commission? The body that is supposed to represent the Commonwealth and negotiate the best possible terms from the casino on behalf of the Commonwealth? They’re rolling over. As usual.

Could it be because they know which hand feeds them?

Ever seen casino commissioners in Las Vegas or Atlantic City meet with the casinos? The casino representatives are scared. They bring a team of lawyers and a stack of papers and are prepared for hard questions. 

And on Saipan? It’s the casino commissioners who are scared of the casino. It’s the casino reps who dictate the agenda of the commissioners’ meetings and decide what the commission will vote on. 

Is IPI scared of CCC? No. It treats it like a joke. It treats all of us like a joke. IPI tells flat-out lies to CCC, and CCC does nothing about it. 

IPI breaks laws, cheats vendors, underpays employees, ignores construction standards, and even had the gall to disturb our ancestors’ remains. What does CCC do? They politely stand on two paws in front of their master. What does Ralph Torres do? Rolls over for IPI like a good boy. His “warning letter” to IPI? All for show. A “warning” is easy.

I don’t fault IPI for taking advantage of the situation. There’s a saying in China: “If you can take advantage, then do it.” 

We invited the fox into the henhouse and we got exactly what everybody said we’d be getting. Every expert who wasn’t paid by IPI or Torres said IPI could never keep its promises and is not a legitimate operation. Every one.

It’s not like we couldn’t see this coming.

Every professional casino industry publication said that IPI will never build the promised casino resort, and will just keep making up excuses. Typhoon, another typhoon, dog ate homework, whatever. A legitimate business knows that unexpected things happen, and doesn’t use them as excuses. Every casino professional knew that all IPI would give us was excuses.

It’s not like Ralph Torres was incapable of opening a newspaper or website. With all the electronics he buys with our public funds, he could probably read, watch, and listen to quite a few news sources all at once.

And now, after years and years of broken promises, an unpaid community benefit fund, cheated businesses, stiffed employees, dead and injured construction workers, desecrated graves, indicted executives, IPI wants to renew the license? Without even paying the license fee?

We’ve trained IPI to expect to get whatever they request. That they are asking yet again shouldn’t be surprising. The only thing surprising is our government keeps working on IPI’s behalf, not ours—and that some people will still vote for the same old “leaders” in November.

Ray S. Cabrera
As Lito, Saipan

Ray S. Cabrera
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