CNMI Casino Commission Delays Granting License To Imperial Pacific

CUC will look into 'readiness' before allowing casino resort to open

By Jon Perez

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 24, 2017) – The Commonwealth Casino Commission would look into the readiness of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC before granting its request to begin operations of the integrated resort’s casino.

The CCC board met yesterday with IPI representatives at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library’s videoconference room to talk whether to allow the Hong Kong-based company to open Imperial Pacific Resort’s gaming facility.

In a statement, IPI said the safety of their guests and employees has always been their highest priority.

“We fully complied with all the requirements of the Department of Public Works and [Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services] and have therefore been granted conditional occupancy permits by both departments.”

“The requirements of the Commonwealth Casino Commission are much higher, so our company will continue to work closely with CCC. Hopefully we receive the approval from CCC soon so we can open the casino and further contribute to the CNMI economy,” the statement said

IPI is the lone casino licensee on Saipan and it requested CCC to allow them to open the casino on Friday, May 26.

The CCC board deferred in making a decision on IPI’s request due to safety concerns and parking space, which are some of the issues raised at the meeting.

“Our concerns right now—on issues on safety, barriers, or the drainage situation outside the perimeter—is to look at the totality of the scenario before we could approve for them to go live with their operations,” said CCC executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero.

“So that even if casino gaming is operational inside, we want to make sure the workers, patrons, guests or anyone that enters or exits the facility are safe. So today, the commission decided that there is not enough evidence and information to grant the approval to let them open on Friday.”

Deleon Guerrero said IPI is all set to begin operations of its casino floor with all gaming tables and other equipment already in place. “The specific area from the casino is relatively ready to go live. But because this would be an issue where there would be a large concentration of people in one location, we’re very concerned with safety—whether safety in reference to traffic movement, parking lots, access [under the] Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, fire safety, building safety, and even the debris issues on the unfinished construction of the hotel.”

He said all permitting agencies met at the Governor’s Office on Monday so they could go through all the requirements needed by IPI. The Office of the Governor called for the meeting and stressed safety compliance.

“The Torres administration emphasizes that the safety of the public and compliance with all requirements is an ongoing priority. The [CCC] is performing its due diligence in all matters related to the oversight of the casino facility,” said the CCC in a statement yesterday.

Deleon Guerrero said the commission would again discuss IPI’s request to open the casino in another meeting on May 31, Tuesday, also at the JKPL videoconference room. “The information that we got from other agencies is that they did not disapprove [IPI’s request] it but they just deferred the decision until Tuesday.”

“We are hoping that between now and next week, all of the issues of our sister permitting agencies would provide CCC with information and feedback—an updated issue regarding compliance in this particular project since this not only involves gaming but also the interior and exterior portions of the facility,” he added.

He asked all permitting agencies to work closely with the commission so IPI could address all of their issues and concerns before giving the go-signal to open the casino.

“This is a mega project. A superstructure. We want to make sure that the…[CNMI] enjoys the new [gaming] industry. Safety is the top issue not only for the people who work in the industry but also for those who would visit. There will be no mini-opening on Friday.”

IPI assures safety

From what Deleon Guerrero learned, all construction activities would be moved to the backside. “From my understanding, there would be no crane movement. All construction activities will be happening at the back and won’t be near the casino area where it would affect the movement of the people.”

“The front yard, where they are doing the water fountains, had also been barricaded. Construction is still ongoing but mostly on the inside part. The hotel side appears with little activity.”

IPI has also secured the facility with numerous fire extinguishers, a regulation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration before an occupancy permit is issued. IPI is also securing all necessary sanitary permits so it could offer food and drinks.

The commission is also securing its office inside the casino since they would monitor IPI’s gaming operations 24 hours.

“We’re tweaking all cameras and making final adjustments. We will have staff there. We have eyes and ears throughout the facility, and [installed a] significant number of cameras.”

IPI first eyed to open the casino on Jan. 28, the Chinese Lunar New Year. That got pushed back to allow the casino floor to be finished. DPW issued a conditional occupancy permit last week.

Saipan Tribune
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