The House of Representatives Gaming Committee still expects a response from the CNMI Lottery Commission regarding the status of the Community Benefit Fund, which casino operator Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC is supposed to pay into.
Committee chair Rep. Ralph Yumul (R-Saipan) told Saipan Tribune in an interview that he is still expecting a response from the CNMI Lottery Commission regarding the status of IPI’s Community Benefit Fund payments.
“We should have an official response from them [the Lottery Commission] already, and I don’t know what is taking so long. We are disappointed in them and this should have been a straight answer of who should be in charge of monitoring the Community Benefit Fund,” Yumul said.
Yumul sent a letter dated Oct. 18, 2019 to both the Lottery Commission and the Commonwealth Casino Commission asking for a status update on the Community Benefit Fund, or the CBF.
The CBF is an annual contribution from IPI, with IPI supposed to chip in $10 million by Jan. 1, 2018, and another $10 million by June 1, 2018. Subsequently, IPI would contribute $20 million to the community chest every year on or before Oct. 1, 2019.
As of publication, only the CCC has responded to Yumul’s letter.
“They [CCC] are pointing at another direction, so we are giving the Lottery Commission an opportunity to respond,” he said.
In a letter dated Nov. 26, 2019, the CCC wrote to the committee stating their inability to comment since the matter is still “under investigation.”
“Please be assured that upon completion of our investigation, we will update your committee on our findings and determinations,” the CCC letter noted.
In his Oct. 18, 2019, letter, Yumul alleged that IPI only paid about $3 million of the CBF payments for 2018. He noted that IPI potentially owes $17 million in CBF payments based on “audited financial statements for the years ended Dec. 31, 2017, and Dec. 31, 2018.”