Gaming investor Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd is likely to be granted an extension to complete construction of its permanent casino on Saipan, reported the Saipan Tribune newspaper, citing comments from Ralph Torres, the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Imperial Pacific has the right to an exclusive casino licence on the Pacific island of Saipan. The firm’s unit Best Sunshine International Ltd is currently operating a temporary casino – which opened in July 2015 – on Saipan, the main island of the CNMI, a U.S. jurisdiction.
The gaming investor had asked to extend the deadline to complete construction of its permanent casino, citing a variety of challenges that caused construction delays. Those included: damage from Typhoon Soudelor; a shortage of skilled construction workers; limited cement supply; and unanticipated ground conditions.
In comments quoted by the Saipan Tribune, Mr Torres said that reasons beyond Imperial Pacific’s control caused the delays and that the factors cited in the firm’s request “were justifiable”. The governor said he had already instructed the CNMI Lottery Commission chairman to meet and discuss Imperial Pacific’s request.
“We want to grant and extend Imperial Pacific’s request, for reasons [factors] that they cannot avoid. I already asked the Lottery Commission to give [Imperial Pacific] the extension they needed and they are going to meet to look into the request,” Mr Torres was quoted as saying.
“The Lottery Commission would look into the extension request and what are the requirements,” he added.
According to a February report from the Marianas Variety newspaper, Imperial Pacific had already sent a letter to the CNMI governor requesting the extension of several deadlines related to the construction of the casino resort.
That report said that the firm had requested an extension of its temporary casino operations from the original date of April 30, 2017, to that of October 31, 2017; as well as an extension – of the deadline to complete the construction and start operations at the permanent casino – from August 11, 2017 to February 11, 2018.
Imperial Pacific had said in January it planned to launch the new casino resort – called Imperial Pacific Resort (pictured in a rendering) – “in the first quarter of 2017”. The firm has stated in previous filings that the casino at the 350-suite Imperial Pacific Resort would feature around “200 to 300 gaming tables” and “300 to 400 slot machines”.
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”Continued negative coverage of the Abe administration, coupled with political losses for the Liberal Democratic Party ... may reduce support for the gaming agenda, which already has only limited public support”
Analyst at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein