CNMI Lottery Commission Extends Deadline For Completion Of Casino Resort Projects

IPI gets five more years to finish projects, will contribute $35 million in yearly licensing fees, community fund

By Erwin Encinares 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Aug. 2, 2017) – The Commonwealth Lottery Commission on Monday extended for the third time the opening deadline of the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino by six more years from now.

The commission amended the Casino License Agreement, or CLA, for the fifth time to extend the deadline to complete Phase 1 to Aug. 13, 2023, and the deadline to complete Phase 2 to Aug. 13, 2028.

Phase 1 involves the construction of the Imperial Pacific Resort and Casino in Garapan. Phase 2 involves the integrated resort in Marpi.

The previous deadline to complete Phase 1 was Aug. 31, 2018.

This means that the CNMI will get a total of $35 million every year from Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, representing the license fee amounting to $15 million each year, plus $20 million in contributions, called Community Benefit Fund, or CBF.

If IPI sticks with this $35 million annual obligation to the Commonwealth, the CNMI government is set to receive $175 million over the span of the extension to 2023.

The Lottery Commission further amended that the CBF, which amounts to an annual contribution of $20 million, is to be received in two tranches of $10 million each, to be paid no later than Jan. 1, 2018, and June 1, 2018. Subsequent CBF contributions are to be paid in full before Oct. 1 of each year.

According to a statement by the Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ administration, the Lottery Commission’s decision was “in line with this administration’s goal of sustainable development.”

“By extending the deadline for the completion of Phases 1 and 2, it allows for the government to properly and efficiently build the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the new amenities and resources that will be available for both tourists and our community to use and enjoy,” the statement said.

“From the very beginning of this new venture, our main goal is to properly balance the needs of a growing economy and our unique environmental resources.”

The statement noted that the extended deadlines allow “IPI to properly go through the permitting process, so that there is more efficient enforcement and no cutting corners.”

“At the end of the day, it is important that we ensure the success of IPI so that we can continue to grow our economy sustainably and foster a market where new small businesses can pop up and new industries can add to our community’s economic successes,” said the statement.

According to representatives of IPI, they have expressed their frustrations to the Commonwealth Casino Commission about labor problems hindering their progress.

According to the statement, past CBF contributions provided $10 million in the form of Commonwealth Utilities Corp. vouchers that helped keep rates low for ratepayers.

“In the Lottery Commission’s process of amending the CLA, the CBF was an element where we took a firm stance. We are very pleased that we were able to secure a guarantee of the annual contributions of $20 million to the fund so that we can address our utility needs, provide for better health care services, more educational resources for the Public School System, Northern Marianas College, and our vocational institutions, and continue to pay our retirees their benefits,” the statement said.

Saipan Tribune
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