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Northern Marianas – Imperial Pacific International sues casino commission for ‘breaching’ license agreement

By - 12 December 2023

The litigation in Saipan between casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) and regulator, the Commonwealth Casino Commission is raging on with the operator now suing the regulator, for breaching its Casino License Agreement.

Imperial Pacific wants to be exempt from paying all of its regulatory fees and wants a court order forcing the casino commission to pay back all regulatory fees paid so far.

The island’s casino Imperial Palace Saipan closed it doors in 2020 following COVID-19. It had its licence suspended just over a year later due to unpaid fees.

In its lawsuit the casino group claim: “The Regulatory Fee Statute imposed additional fees for doing business in CNMI, which constitutes a substantial and unconstitutional impairment of the CLA (casino license agreement). IPI was and is still required by CCC to pay the US$3 million annual regulatory fee as a prerequisite to exercising its existing contractual and property rights set forth explicitly in the CLA, rights for which it already has compensated the Commonwealth,” the lawsuit stated, claiming that the regulatory fee represents a double whammy on top of other license fees.

“The annual regulatory fees are substantial, and the impairment to the express and implied terms of the CLA is direct. The later imposed regulatory fees effectively nullify the explicit terms of the CLA and impose completely unexpected and new liabilities and limitations on the operation of IPI.

“CCC requires IPI to pay excessive and unlawful fees pursuant to the later enacted regulatory fee statute without formal condemnation, as a condition for IPI to operate its business under the CLA despite the CLA already expressly providing for an annual license fee and no such regulatory fee, and further, despite IPI being legally prohibited from operating the casino during the pandemic and when its license was suspended. It is thereby permanently, directly and substantially interfering with IPI’s use and enjoyment of its contractual and property rights, amounting to an unauthorized taking without just compensation.”

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