It was supposed to be August 2017. Then, it was going to be the summer of 2018 before it was “definitely” going to be the end of 2018. A pattern began to emerge, however, and the Imperial Palace casino resort on Saipan had to request for yet another extension to its construction, with initial updates indicating the end of 2020 or into 2021. Now, the company behind the endeavor, Imperial Pacific International Holdings (IPI), is up to its old tricks, requesting yet another delay. If it’s looking to set the record for the most casino construction delays, it has to be close to reaching the top of the list, if it isn’t already there.
IPI believes it won’t be able to complete construction until August 21, 2022—a very specific date, given the company’s complete inability to perform any task on schedule. According to media channels, the extension request was not discussed by Saipan’s Lottery Commission when it met on Tuesday.
When IPI announced its first delay, it was told that any other delays would cause its license to be revoked. However, after several delays, several lawsuits over unpaid wages, several changes to its top brass and several federal investigations, it appears that regulators still haven’t wisened up and realized what IPI is really up to.
In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last April, IPI indicated that “phase one” of Imperial Palace would be ready—at least partially—“on or before” the end of the third quarter of this year. Given its propensity for scheduling milestones and not keeping them, this isn’t a bet worth considering.
IPI isn’t able to get its act together on Saipan, but is interested in launching another casino. According to a report in the Saipan Tribune, IPI has been approved by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to build a 2,000-key resort to Marpi, on the northern end of Saipan.
That project would be funded with the help of outside investments, which the Lottery Commission’s chairman, Mark Rabauliman, said would benefit IPI, and the Mariana Islands. He asserted, “…The more investors you bring in, the more you highlight the investment. Hopefully…the [investment] gets more diversified and grows. At the end of the day, we are here to support this growing enterprise [gaming]. …The CNMI would benefit.”
IPI has apparently attracted a lot of attention from investors. The company’s current CEO, Mark Brown, explains “There’s a lot of interest from people. …They are looking at our company and what our plans are here. …We explain our plan to them [investors] and they are very interested. That’s why one of our requests is to allow us to actually offer more shares out. To have more investors and basically to have more partners coming in to Saipan so our company grows and the CNMI grows with it.”
If plans are firmed up between the CNMI and IPI to allow the new project to move forward, hopefully regulators will have learned from their past mistakes and make sure IPI is able to adhere to regulations and schedules this time around.