Saipan licenses its first junket operator

saipan-first-junket-operator-licenseSaipan gaming regulators have approved their first junket operator license, paving the way for the first junket deal with the island’s only casino.

On Monday, the Marianas Variety reported that the Commonwealth Casino Commission had issued a provisional license to Du Young Jang, the owner of South Korean junket operator Big Bang Entertainment.

Commission director Deleon Guerrero said Big Bang’s roster of high-rolling gamblers is drawn primarily from South Korea and Japan. Big Bang’s license was issued on Aug. 11 and will expire on Aug. 31, 2017.

There are currently 18 other junket license applications awaiting the Commission’s stamp of approval. The Commission serves all of the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, including Tinian and Rota.

Big Bang’s next job is securing a junket deal with Best Sunshine International, the local subsidiary of Imperial Pacific International Holdings. Best Sunshine operates Best Sunshine Live, the temporary casino that is serving as a stopgap until the company’s permanent gaming venue, Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort, is ready to welcome guests.

To date, Best Sunshine has relied on its own initiative to identify and lure VIP gamblers to its casino. This allows the company to keep a larger share of gamblers’ losses, but also exposes the company to greater losses should VIPs run lucky.

Best Sunshine may be ready for a change. After surprising most observers by reporting monthly VIP turnover of nearly $3.2b in April, the VIP fortunes have slumped in recent months, hitting a near record low of $1.55b in August.

The Marianas’ other casinos aren’t currently open to customers. The Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino has been shut ever since its former owner went belly-up, although hopes are high that the new investors will breathe life back into the property. Two other Tinian operators, Alter City Group and Bridge Investment Group, have received conditional casino licenses but have yet to begin construction of their properties.