In a large report on Bloomberg Businessweek last week, the gambling regulatory body of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Commonwealth Casino Commission, was accused of relations to a local casino, of collusion, and corruption. The commissioners denied the allegations on Thursday, insisting that they were innocent and that Bloomberg should have proven the claims before publishing them.
Commission chairman Juan Sablan said that he and his colleagues were not corrupt and they had not received anything from the Imperial Pacific International (IPI), the casino described in the Bloomberg article. According to its author, Matthew Campbell, the success of the Saipan-based casino is only possible as a result of its “alliance” with Gov. Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres and his entire family who have a direct financial stake in the company’s success. Campbell also exposes Edward Deleon Guerrero as the governor’s uncle, suggesting the casino has connections to the regulatory body as well.
A special meeting was held on Thursday by the commissioners where they provided the media with a copy of an interview taken by the Bloomberg. Several members of the Commission commented on the severe accusations.
The article, called A Chinese Casino Has Conquered a Piece of America, focuses on the financial transactions worth millions of dollars that have been paid to the governor’s family. Another highlight is the huge profit made by the Chinese casino brand on the small island of Saipan.
Its profits, Campbell says, are several times higher than the figures reported by the most lavish casinos in Macau, which in turn are much more profitable than the industry in Las Vegas. There are also accusations of money laundering, illegal Chinese workers who arrive with tourist visas, and more. The report was published on February 15 and managed to stir the public and the gambling authorities on the Northern Mariana Islands, in particular.
On a meeting this Thursday, the Commonwealth Casino Commission addressed the accusations and said that it would come up with an official statement. Executive Director Edward Deleon Guerrero explained that while he was, indeed, the governor’s uncle, he was hired and joined the Commission before his nephew became a governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, as the US commonwealth is officially known. He noted that Campbell had not mentioned this fact, nor the fact that none of the commissioners were appointed by the current governor. According to him, they were actually hired by the late Gov. Eloy Inos.
Deleon Guerrero described the article in Bloomberg as “exaggerated, uncalled for and very unfair”. He also defended his nephew, explaining that the governor and his family were humble and hardworking people, and the commissioners, who were doing their best to regulate the industry and retain their integrity. Guerrero claimed that the Commission has sanctioned individuals violating the law and regulations regarding the casino industry.