Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings (IPI) will open its permanent gaming venue next month after finally getting the nod from local regulators.
On Thursday, the Marianas Variety reported that the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) had given IPI the green light to launch gaming operations at the unfinished Imperial Pacific Resort (pictured). The company said it plans to hold an official opening ceremony at the Resort on or before July 15.
IPI currently operates a temporary Saipan ‘training’ casino, Best Sunshine Live, which is located in a high-end shopping mall in Garapan. Last month, the CCC gave conditional approval to IPI’s request to launch gaming operations at the unfinished permanent venue, which has been subject to numerous development delays.
The terms of IPI’s gaming license required the Resort’s 250-room hotel to be open to the public before gaming activity could commence on the premises. But in April, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Lottery Commission granted IPI an extension of the deadline for completing Phase One of the Resort from Aug. 31, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.
IPI’s request to amend the terms of its license agreement was challenged by the Office of the Attorney General, leading the CCC to request the Lottery Commission’s clarification. The Lottery Commission determined Thursday that amending the license agreement to allow gaming to launch without the hotel being ready to welcome overnight guests was in the best interests of both the CNMI and IPI.
It’s been a long slog for IPI to get to this point, having endured a string of construction delays related to workplace fatalities, trash fires, investigations into undocumented foreign workers and some IPI subcontractors’ reluctance to pay their workers.
Earlier this month, IPI raised nearly $6m via a bond issue, and the company announced that most of these funds would be used to pay contractors engaged in finishing the Resort’s Phase One development.
Previous IPI filings indicated that the Resort would feature between 200 and 300 gaming tables, as well as 300 to 400 electronic gaming machines. When fully finished, the Resort will also offer a total of 350 hotel rooms.