Two senior officials of the Commonwealth Casino Commission have recommended Saipan’s gaming regulator be turned into a law enforcement agency in order to be able to tackle gaming-related crimes in the main island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Local newspaper Marianas Variety quotes Commission chairman Juan Sablan and executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero as saying in a joint letter to lawmakers that the lack of law-enforcement powers is affecting the regulator’s ability to conduct criminal background and other suitability checks, namely to Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, a unit of Hong Kong-listed gaming investor Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd.
Imperial Pacific has the right to an exclusive casino licence on the Pacific island of Saipan. The group is currently developing the Imperial Pacific Resort, but completion of the casino resort complex (pictured) has been postponed time and again as the developer sought money to finish building it.
The two officials said additionally that obtaining law-enforcement powers would enable the regulator to share resources and assets with the United States federal law enforcement agencies.
The Commission could otherwise have trouble obtaining confidential criminal, financial and intelligence information from law enforcement agencies, both domestic and foreign, said the officials in the letter sent to the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation.
The Delegation’s House Committee on Gaming is to discuss a bill that would clarify the powers of the casino regulator and criminalise certain acts related to gaming.
The news outlet reported that – in a separate letter sent to the House Committee on Gaming – the Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Velma Palacios also expressed support for the bill, saying it would provide the Casino Commission with the “necessary autonomy from potential political interference”.
The gaming regulator will discuss the details of the bill in its monthly meeting, scheduled for Thursday.
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