Government stakeholders in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands casino industry are getting specialized training in a variety of subjects including regulatory compliance and criminal investigations and enforcement. Over 100 people are participating in training that began Monday. Among them are members of the Commonwealth Casino Commission.
Participants conducting the exercises include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service, Mariana Regional Fusion Center (homeland security), and Nevada State Gaming Control Board.
According to a report in the Saipan Tribune, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and NMI, Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, had informed Gov. Ralph DLG Torres months ago that federal partners want to support local participants who wish to receive specialized training in investigative techniques and enforcement for national intelligence gathering and the gaming industry.
A whole complement of government agencies took advantage of the offering according to Limtiaco, from the Commonwealth Casino Commission to the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, along with CNMI Customs, Department of Corrections, Department of Labor Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, Drug Enforcement Administration, Finance and Revenue, Fire Department, Office of the Attorney General, Office of the Public Auditor, FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s office. Guam officials also joined in via video-conference.
Limtiaco said, “We are looking at areas involving everything pertaining to the Bank Secrecy Act, money laundering, financial crimes, national security, looking at overview of gaming regulations, organized criminal activity, and a host of other topics that will be shared with the attendees in an effort to increase their knowledge, their experience, and skills,” she said, noting that she was pleased with the level of attendance the weeklong training had attracted.
Included among those conducting training was deputy chief James Taylor of the special investigation and support services section of the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division.
There is only one casino currently operating table games in the CNMI, Saipan’s Best Sunshine Live, a temporary casino located in the T Galleria shopping center. However, the Tinian Dynasty Casino on a sister island has been forced to shutter after being heavily fined for bank secrecy act and money laundering violations resulting from an undercover sting operation by federal agents several years ago.
A former employee of Tinian Dynasty, employed after the money laundering violations, has alleged in a wrongful termination suit that Best Sunshine did not follow accepted reporting practices and some believe he may be the “unidentified source” who made similar claims to a major news outlet in November. However, the U.S. government has not indicated there is any veracity to the claims and Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero confirmed in November that the casino was operating in compliance with U.S. Banking Secrecy and anti-money laundering laws.
Best Sunshine Live has posted world-record VIP gaming volume since opening in July 2015. In January 2017 alone, 16 VIP tables there generated about $5.6 billion in bets according to a monthly voluntary filing by Imperial Pacific with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It’s currently unclear how much of that volume translates to profits. According to a recent filing: “The actual gain or loss of the Temporary Casino will be determined after the review by the Company’s auditors upon finalization of the consolidated financial statements of the Group.”
Governor Ralph Torres praised the training and trainers saying, “Having the presenters from off-island who are very much qualified come here gives us the opportunity to know what to look for and how to do our work better,” Torres said.
Several large-scale projects are slated for CNMI including Imperial Pacific Resort slated to open sometime in the first quarter of the year, followed by another Phase at the current Mariana Resort & Spa located at Marpi, Saipan, bringing their investment on the island to as much $7 billion. In late January 2016, the Tinian Casino Control Commission unanimously approved Alter City Group’s request for a conditional license to operate the Plumeria Golf and Casino Resort at Nasarino Beach on the island of Tinian. The Bridge Investment Group has received approvals to build the $130 million Tinian Ocean View Casino Resort which includes a full-sized replica of the Titanic, also on Tinian.