In a filing with the Hong Kong exchange, Imperial Pacific said rolling chip turnover at its casino in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands came to $1.65b in June, down 35% from May’s number and barely half that of April’s $3.2b. The turnover figure is the lowest since last December’s $1.44b.
The figure adds some credence to Imperial Pacific’s recent claim that its VIP turnover “will cease to grow and have become saturated.” Mark Brown (pictured), CEO of Imperial Pacific subsidiary Best Sunshine International, later claimed that the saturation comment was only made because the early returns on the casino had been so massive that some tempering of expectations was needed.
Brown recently gave an interview with World Casino News in which he repeated that the property’s “explosive growth will not grow exponentially forever, particularly given the current hotel capacity constraints.”
The temporary casino (in a local shopping mall) has no hotel facilities, but Imperial Pacific will be able to offer 300+ rooms to its guests when it opens the first phase of its permanent Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort later this year.
The temporary casino currently supports only 50 gaming tables, but this will rise to over 250 – along with 400 slot machines and the usual assortment of restaurants, bars and clubs – when the permanent property’s first phase opens. According to Brown, that’s when the casino “should start seeing real growth.”
Brown was quick to point out that Saipan has no Macau-style cap on the number of table games Imperial Pacific can offer. And with a monopoly concession for the next 40 years, Imperial Pacific can expand as much as the market will bear.
Even with the present hotel room constraints, Brown said Saipan already ranked fourth in the world in terms of VIP gambling turnover, behind only Macau, Las Vegas and Singapore.
Imperial Pacific is currently operating without the assistance of junket operators but Brown says this will change once the permanent property is ready to go. Brown believes Imperial Pacific will be able to offer a competitive rolling chip program to junkets based on Saipan’s lower taxes compared to Macau.