SAIPAN — "I don't think it's urgent to put $1 million right now into the (commission)," Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres said on Friday regarding the Commonwealth Casino Commission's request for funds to avoid shutting down next year.
But he does believe the CNMI should continue to look at other options, including e-gaming.
"I know that there's a proposal for e-gaming. Maybe that's something that we can look into. Or perhaps just seeing how we can maximize (the casino commission's) role, whether (it should) start monitoring the poker industry and/or some of the amusement activities," he added.
The governor said the administration will communicate with the commission's executive director, Andrew Yeom, as well as its board, on how the casino industry can move forward in the next six to eight months.
"Well, we take things one step at a time. We have to look at the viability of the industry," Torres added.
As of Sept. 29, the commission had 12 employees, including Yeom.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Imperial Pacific International casino shutdown, the commission had more than 50 employees.
The casino commissioners are Chairman Edward Deleon Guerrero, Vice Chairman Ralph Demapan, Ramon Dela Cruz and Mario Taitano.
In August 2021, the commission's total expense was $107,211, of which 59.32% was spent on personnel wages and benefits while 25.26% was spent on the commissioners and other compensation.
The commission depends solely on the $3 million regulatory fee that exclusive license holder IPI can no longer afford to pay.
IPI, which shut down in March 2020 amid the pandemic, is facing several lawsuits from vendors and former employees.
Recently, casino commission Executive Director Yeom filed four complaints against IPI and sought the revocation of the casino investor's exclusive license.