Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Andrew Yeom has informed the CCC board that a House local bill that proposes to authorize, establish, and regulate casino gambling within the Third Senatorial District is unconstitutional according to the Office of the Attorney General’s opinion.
The Third Senatorial District refers to Saipan and the Northern Islands.
During the CCC board meeting last week at the Springs Plaza Building in Gualo Rai, Yeom said the OAG’s opinion on House Local Bill 22-26 is that the CNMI cannot have a local legislation trying to supersede Commonwealth Public Law 21-38.
Public Law 21-38 clarifies and enhances CCC’s powers, including the authority to issue a casino license.
Moreover, Yeom said, HLB 22-26 would be unconstitutional because an exclusive casino licensee has already been established and it would violate Article 1 Section 1, the Contracts
Clause of the CNMI Constitution.
House floor leader Rep. Ralph N. Yumul (R-Saipan) introduced HLB 22-26 last Oct. 29, proposing to increase the number of casino licenses on Saipan from one to five. He cited the need to secure a source of funding for the 25% portion of the retirees’ pensions for introducing the measure, as well as in anticipation of the revocation of the exclusive Saipan casino license of the struggling Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC.
The legislation has been referred to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.
Last month, Senate President U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian) said SNILD has no authority to pass HLB 22-26 as the legislation is not legally sufficient.
Hofschneider said SNILD cannot enact a local bill that supersedes or contradicts the authority of the Commonwealth Casino Commission, as established by Public Law 18-56.