Casino commission nominees: ‘Let’s help the industry succeed’

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GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres’ new appointees to the Commonwealth Casino Commission on Monday asked the public and the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation to help the casino industry succeed, which will also help the CNMI economy to recover.

The nominees are former Commonwealth Casino Commission Executive Director Edward C. Deleon Guerrero, former Speaker Ralph S. Demapan, and former Rep. Mario Taitano.

 Ralph S. Demapan

Mario Taitano


Edward C. Deleon Guerrero

If confirmed, they will succeed Juan M. Sablan, Alvaro Santos, and Jose C. Reyes whose six-year terms ended on April 30.

On Monday, the nominees fielded questions during a public hearing conducted by the Saipan delegation. 

In their remarks, the nominees vowed to do their best to ensure that Imperial Pacific International, the lone casino operator in the CNMI, complies with the license agreement as well as the applicable laws and regulations. 

At the same time, they said, they must also see to it that the new industry will succeed.

Demapan said whenever IPI has deficiencies in meeting its obligations, it is important to talk to the investor and help it comply. “We cannot allow this industry to fail,” he added.

Taitano said if his nomination is confirmed, he would see to it that the casino operator follows all the rules.

When he was still a House member, he said, “we had to make a tough decision to save the Retirement Fund,” adding that this is why casino legalization on Saipan was approved by the Legislature.

Taitano said he also wants to be the “voice of our Refaluwasch community” on the casino commission.

Deleon Guerrero said during his five-year term as casino commission executive director, the regulatory body worked to ensure that the industry succeeds. He said they also made sure that the casino operator followed the rules while working, as much as possible, with the federal government to make sure IPI complied with anti-money laundering laws and other federal statutes governing the gaming industry.

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