Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino ‘temporarily’ closing hotel due to lack of tourists

tinian-dynasty-casino-hotel-closesThe Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino is temporarily closing its hotel operations due to a lack of customers.

On Thursday, the property’s general manager Christopher Bishop confirmed that the hotel would suspend operations effective Saturday (5) and wouldn’t reopen until April 15, except for a period covering March 13-19 to honor a previously booked event. Bishop cited a “lack of customers,” particularly among Chinese tourists to the Northern Marianas, for the shutdown.

The Saipan Tribune quoted Tinian mayor Joey San Nicolas saying he learned of the shutdown in a letter from Wai Chan, the chairman of Dynasty’s parent company Hong Kong Entertainment (HKE). San Nicolas claimed the lack of customers was due in part to “some cancellation of flights” to the island.

The property’s casino has been shut since last September, when tourist traffic to the island dried up following Typhoon Souledor. The casino was supposed to reopen in December but HKE filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that month.

The casino’s problems weren’t all weather-related. The Northern Marianas are a US commonwealth territory, and last June, US regulators fined Tinian Dynasty $75m for “willful and egregious” lapses in its anti-money laundering (AML) protocols. Last month, the bankrupt HKE agreed to forfeit $2.5m to US prosecutors related to its AML shenanigans.

The fate of Tinian Dynasty’s 390 hotel employees remains unclear. Bishop said the hotel expects a “high number” of tourists when it reopens but staff “will be paid when they work.”

Last month, HKE worked out a deal to pay Tinian Dynasty’s 531 current and former staffers a total of $1.7m to cover nearly five months of unpaid wages. On Friday, Bishop insisted that the shutdown wouldn’t interfere with HKE’s ability to honor this agreement.

Tinian Dynasty’s woes don’t seem to have deterred other would-be casino operators. The Tinian Casino Gaming Commission is slated to review a license application by Tinian Entertainment Co this month or next, while a conditional license was issued in January to Alter City Group, which plans to start building its resort casino in August with an opening planned for 2020.

Another conditional license has been issued to Bridge Investment Group (BIG). In what may prove ironic foreshadowing, BIG says its planned Tinian Ocean Resort and Casino will base its design on the ill-fated RMS Titanic. Hopefully, BIG’s vessel will bring enough financial lifeboats for everyone who dares climb aboard.