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North Mariana Islands – Imperial Pacific wants judicial review into suspension of Saipan operating licence

By - 16 June 2021

Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International wants the Superior Court in Saipan to carry out a judicial review into the indefinite suspension of its casino license by the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The casino at Imperial Palace Saipan has been shuttered since March 17 2020.

Imperial Pacific said in its filing: “Pursuant to the force majeure clause under the Casino License Agreement, the Licensee is not required to pay the Annual License Fee in the event of natural disasters. However, the Commonwealth Casino Commission raised disputes and alleged that the pandemic does not constitute a natural disaster or force majeure. As a result, the Licensee has filed a review with Superior Court in Saipan to determine whether the pandemic constitutes a natural disaster or force majeure. If it is determined that the pandemic constitutes a natural disaster or force majeure, the Licensee will not be required to pay the Annual License Fee.”

The operator had its licence indefinitely suspended having been unable to pay its US$3.1m annual regulatory fee in 2020 due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Added to this, it failed to comply with an order to pay money owed to vendors, has breached minimum capital requirements, opted not to pay the cost of its annual US$15.5m casino license in 2020, and was twice unable to pay US$20m owed to the community benefit fund in 2018 and 2019.

It accumulated fines and penalties believed to have reached the US$808 mark.

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