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Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International (IPI) could be rescued by online gambling, supposing the company’s still running by the time the required legislation is approved.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) House of Representatives approved HB 21-31 this week, a bill to permit senatorial districts to launch and regulate internet gaming. The bill, which cleared the House gaming committee, was accepted by a vote of 11-8, clearing its path to the Senate for more discussion.

Earlier, IPI was open about its longing to add online gambling to its list of responsibilities, even though last summer, the company noted that this would need ‘some investment’ on its part. Given the risky state of IPI’s finances and its incapacity to complete the projects it is working on already, it’s quite vague if IPI is willing to taking on any further responsibilities.

ANOTHER IPI EXEC GETS VISITED BY FBI

In the meantime, US federal agents have visited another IPI exec for unspecified reasons. Local media reported that last Friday, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and CNMI Office of the Public Auditor presented a search warrant at the home of IPI’s director of strategic planning, Eson Yuen. The agencies refused to specify the purpose behind their visit.

As reported by calvinayre.com, FBI agents led raids on many Saipan locations last November, including IPI’s offices and those of CNMI Gov. Ralph Torres, in an investigation into potential wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy concerning suspected unlawful campaign contributions. Torres has denied the allegations.

IPI FAILS TO STAY LABOR LAWSUIT

Lastly, a federal judge has declined IPI’s request to stay proceedings brought by seven construction workers who allege they were exposed to forced labor and received injuries at the hands of a contractor IPI employed to help build its Imperial Palace Resort.

IPI’s legal reps had requested for a stay of the court case because of the “criminal investigation” concerning their company; however, District Court Judge Ramona Manglona said that whatever criminal inquiries might be going on, they didn’t concern IPI’s labor practices. So Manglona declined IPI’s request for a stay and ordered the company to present the records pursued by the seven workers.

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