Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed promoter of a bricks and mortar casino resort on the Pacific Ocean island of Saipan, a United States jurisdiction, says it has “interest in entering into Saipan online gaming operations”.
The company stated in a Thursday filing, referring to the local authorities for the Pacific archipelago of which Saipan is part: “The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is set to vote on a bill that would allow licences to be issued for online gaming after the [CNMI] House Committee on Gaming recently approved a measure to establish the CNMI as a new base for online gaming operators in the region.”
Imperial Pacific added: “If approved, the group shall apply for [an] online gaming licence and the industry would also be regulated by the Commonwealth Casino Commission.”
The filing did not clarify what was meant by “online gaming”. In some jurisdictions, conventional casinos are already permitted to offer so-called “proxy” gambling whereby a person not physically present in the casino is able to communicate either via telephone line or the Internet, to place a bet via another person or “proxy” that is present in the casino.
In some markets, licences are issued for so-called “gaming studios”; offering via the Internet, live streaming of table games using real dealers and allowing people outside the jurisdiction to place bets. Other definitions of “online gaming” encompass casino games based on random number generators that are delivered to consumers over the Internet, with no connection whatsoever with live games; and sports betting, including so-called “in-running” betting on live events.
Imperial Pacific’s filing also did not clarify what was the position of the United States federal government in relation to online gaming possibly being offered via CNMI.
Imperial Pacific has been facing headwinds regarding its bricks and mortar casino resort scheme, in terms of some construction delays and a search for fresh funding.
In February this year, the Saipan Tribune newspaper quoted the Imperial Pacific group as saying building work on the “initial gaming facility” on Saipan would be completed in 2019.
The 2018 annual report of Imperial Pacific International Holdings noted that – as of end-2018 – “approximately US$792 million” had been invested by Imperial Pacific in “design, consulting, engineering, construction material and labour” for its Saipan property.
On Monday it was reported that a local bill had been introduced that sought to impose a 10 percent tax on net gambling revenue there.
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