Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings‘ (IPI) in-development permanent gaming venue caught fire on Monday, likely imposing further delays on the project’s already sketchy completion date.
On Monday, a fire broke out at the construction site of the Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan, the company’s planned permanent gaming venue in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. IPI currently operates a temporary casino, Best Sunshine Live, from a high-end shopping mall on Saipan.
The Marianas Variety media outlet reported that a worker had called emergency services around 3pm on Monday to report a “trash fire” breaking out at the construction site. The all-clear was sounded approximately four hours later and no one was reported harmed.
The authorities are still investigating the cause of the blaze but observers reported that the fire originated due to welding sparks falling onto “construction material debris” that had been piled up against the in-development structure.
IPI has yet to comment as to what delays the fire might cause the project’s construction. It was only two weeks ago that IPI sought permission from the local government to extend the deadline for completing the permanent casino’s construction due to a variety of factors, including damages caused by 2015’s Typhoon Soudelor. The resort was scheduled for a ‘soft opening’ of its gaming operations at the end of March.
Imperial Pacific recently announced that its board of directors plans to meet on March 28 to discuss, among other things, the approval of its 2016 audited annual results. Last week, the Hong Kong-listed company alerted the market that it expected to record “a substantial increase in profit” in 2016 after posting a net loss in 2015.
While its final numbers won’t be released until March 31, Imperial Pacific said the success it enjoyed in 2016 was entirely due to the November 2015 launch of Best Sunshine Live, which has posted some staggering VIP gambling turnover numbers in recent months.
Saipan is nominally part of the United States and Best Sunshine’s outsized success in attracting Asian VIPs has attracted the attention of US federal authorities. Last month saw the Department of Justice conduct a weeklong seminar to help local gaming regulators better understand their anti-money laundering obligations and rumors flew last fall that US financial watchdogs had opened a probe into alleged violations of the Bank Secrecy Act at Best Sunshine.