Casino regulators have revoked the gaming license of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino operator Hong Kong Entertainment (HKE).
On Wednesday, the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission (TCGCC) held a special meeting at which commissioners voted 5-0 to cancel HKE’s casino license. The TCGCC justified its decision based on HKE’s failure to meet the requirements of its license.
The TCGCC said HKE had (a) failed to comply with audit requirements for the years 2008 through 2014; (b) failed to keep separate bank accounts in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas to handle casino banking transactions; and (c) turned over management of the casino to individuals whose suitability had not been vetted by the TCGCC.
The property’s casino has been closed since last September, which HKE blamed on a lack of customer traffic following Typhoon Souledor. HKE filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December and the property announced in March that it was ‘temporarily’ closing its hotel, also due to a lack of customers.
HKE’s finances weren’t helped by enforcement actions from US financial watchdogs, who fined the casino $75m for “wilful and egregious” lapses in its anti-money laundering practices, while US federal prosecutors forced HKE to forfeit $2.5m for similar lack of attention to regulatory detail.
Tinian mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas issued a statement saying that he’d hoped HKE would find a way to resume its operations, but “the liabilities that have been incurred by HKE in the course of conducting gaming activities are insurmountable.”
Last week, San Nicolas told the Saipan Tribune that Tim Chen, owner of Hong Kong-listed Chinese Strategic Holdings, had expressed interest in taking over Tinian Dynasty’s operations. Chen’s firm was one of HKE’s main creditors, and Chen reportedly wants to convert this debt to ownership.
HKE’s license revocation leaves Tinian with two conditionally licensed casino operators, Alter City Group and Bridge Investment Group, neither of which have begun construction of their properties.