COMMONWEALTH’s Casinos Commission executive director Andrew Yeom appeared before a House committee on Friday to present the findings of his research into the feasibility of internet gambling in CNMI.
Yeom has been invited by House Gaming Committee Chairman Edwin Propst to discuss the matter with lawmakers.
In his remarks, Yeom said he was not advocating the passage of the Internet gambling measure, Bill 22-47. “I’m just trying to lay the facts out there,” he added.
Yeom reiterated his previous comments on the need to address concerns about the bill and consider its “pros and cons”.
He also noted that he would present “hypothetical figures, and [these] are for projection purposes only ”, and“ do not represent actual figures as there is no practical data available for the CNMI ”.
Ultimately, he said, it is up to CNMI lawmakers to decide whether or not to allow internet gambling in the Commonwealth.
Yeom said that “if all goes well,” a CNMI-based online gambling site has the potential to attract up to 2.1 million online users per year and could generate $ 450 million in revenue. gross from 2025.
Propst, for his part, said his committee, “out of an excess of caution”, will examine the “red flags” that have been raised regarding internet gambling, including the possible costs of its regulation.
“We were promised a $ 7 billion industry [by a] casino investor, Imperial Pacific International, and fast forward [to] today the casino commission needs a million dollars to keep operating, ”said Propst.
He added that IPI’s license has been suspended and could be revoked by the commission.
Representative Tina Sablan asked Yeom to explain who among the offshore players based in other countries would be able to place online bets in the CNMI.
Yeom said online players may or may not be physically on the island, but players off the island can only place bets from countries where online gambling is legal.
Sablan asked Yeom if his screening assumed that offshore players from countries where online gambling is legal would be able to legally place bets in CNMI despite the Federal Wire Act, which prohibits the operation of certain types of businesses. betting in the United States.
Yeom then informed lawmakers of an updated US online gambling lawsuit regarding the Federal Wire Act.
He said that on June 21, 2021, the 150 days given to the United States Department of Justice to appeal a decision of the First Circuit court to the United States Supreme Court had expired.
In January 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the Federal Wire Act only applied to sports betting and not to other types of online gambling.
Yeom noted that the US DOJ “let the time limit for an appeal expire without action, so the case is closed and the decision of the First Circuit has prevailed.”
“In this circuit, isn’t it?” asked Sablan.
“It’s in the first circuit, isn’t it?” Propst added. “And we are in the ninth circuit.”
“I’m not a lawyer,” Yeom said, “but I say it is and we have a Joe Biden administration that discourages all appeals.”
Sablan said their “goal as policy makers, as a regulator and as a community should not be to bypass or bypass, or bypass the Wire Act. I hope that would not be the message or the conclusion that anyone would draw from today’s debates…. Others have asked about … the screenings in part because they made the headlines about the millions of millions of dollars that are going to be coming to CNMI and I think there are a lot of misconceptions from the public on the reality and the assumptions underlying these figures.
Sablan also told Yeom that “we have received some pretty credible information, I think, that CNMI has been added to China’s blacklist and if we were to legalize online gaming we will definitely be blacklisted for. Chinese tourist arrivals “.
Yeom said there will be no online gamers in China where it is illegal. In addition, there is technology that provides a “geolocation mechanism” to deny access to foreign players who are in countries where gambling is illegal, he said, adding that he was not. no longer aware of the existence of a “black list”.
Representative Celina Babauta said she doubted the “nice numbers” presented by Yeom were “realistic”, referring to her projected potential income.
“Whether or not you believe these numbers is up to you,” Yeom said. “Like I said, I can’t guarantee these numbers either. These are potential numbers. He could be met [or] it may be totally wrong. I cannot… guarantee these numbers. [These] are [a] sort of visualization of what [the potential revenue] could be…. Don’t think that’s how it’s going to be or exactly how it will be.
Representative Vicente Camacho told Yeom that he, Yeom, “speaks more as an online gaming operator than a regulator.”
Camacho said that next time, Yeom should “bring in” an Internet gambling operator.
“This is exactly my concern before I come here,” Yeom said.
“When I spoke to you, President, I didn’t want to be here to talk about it because that’s exactly what would be portrayed, a picture of myself. I am a regulator. I shouldn’t be speaking like an operator. But the president insisted that I come here and at least share my knowledge of what’s going on there. I’m just trying to give you this, ”Yeom said.
“If that’s not my place, then please don’t call me here to say it.” This is exactly what you asked me to do, to share my knowledge …[regarding] online gambling for the CNMI…. I’m just trying to share as much as I can so you can make a decision – whether it’s positive or negative is up to you. But I’m just here to give you information.