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Lottery Commission allows IPI to defer payment of community benefit fund  

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THE CNMI Lottery Commission on Thursday voted to defer for six months Imperial Pacific International’s contribution to the community benefit fund that was due on Oct. 1.

The commission is chaired by Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman, and its members are Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Deleon Guerrero.

It was Atalig who made the motion to postpone the payment of the community benefit fund or CBF contribution, citing the IPI claim of force majeure events that impaired its ability to meet the obligation.

Also present in the meeting were the officials of Commonwealth Casino Commission, Rep. Tina Sablan and representatives of IPI’s unpaid construction workers and former employees.

They all raised concerns about IPI’s request, citing the casino investor’s continuous failure to live up to its commitments.

 

Imperial Pacific International Chief Executive Officer Donald Browne, left foreground, meets with members of the CNMI Lottery Commission: Finance Secretary David DLG Atalig, Commerce Secretary Mark Rabauliman and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert Guerrero. Photo by Emmanuel T. Erediano

Casino Commission Chairman Edward C. Deleon Guerrero also told the lottery commissioners that they did not have the authority to decide on most of IPI’s proposals that involve amending the casino law.

The lottery commissioners recognized that they do not have the authority to act on IPI’s request to allow the casino investor to pay the $15.5 million exclusive license fee by installment; reduce  the $3 million regulatory fee by half; and make Public Law 20-85 retroactive to July 2015.  The law was enacted in January 2019 “to strengthen the protections against fraudulent misuse of financial instruments in casino gaming and other transactions in the commonwealth.”

IPI Chief Executive Officer Donald Browne said in an interview that the six-month deferment of the CBF payment will give IPI time to negotiate on how exactly the CBF will be contributed, and discuss the other proposed amendments to the casino license agreement.

He said IPI will also ask the Legislature to amend the casino law. 

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