Casino promoter Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd has confirmed in a Friday filing that its casino licence for the United States jurisdiction of Saipan has been suspended, and that its local operating unit Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC has been ordered to pay outstanding fees amounting to US$18.6 million, and a fine of US$6.6 million.
The parent stated in its announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that on Friday the Saipan regulator, the Commonwealth Casino Commission, had issued the licence-suspension decision for Imperial Palace Saipan (pictured in a file photo), and also ordered the casino operator to pay “immediately” US$18.6 million in annual licence and casino regulatory fees, and total penalties of US$6.6 million, the latter to be settled within six months.
The Saipan Tribune newspaper reported on Friday – citing the regulator’s chairman Edward Guerrero – that if the local operating unit did not settle the outstanding amounts, that the regulator would seek revocation of the casino licence.
In its Friday filing, the casino operator’s parent company also clarified that casino operations at its venue had been paused since mid-March last year.
“Since 17 March 2020, the casino in Imperial Palace Saipan has suspended operations to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus,” said the parent.
It added: “The group is using its best endeavours in working towards satisfying the abovementioned sum[s] in order to lift the suspension of licence.”
Separately, the Marianas Variety newspaper reported on Monday that the local regulator had also suspended issuance of any junket licences for Imperial Pacific International. It said that the decision followed concerns expressed by Ralph Torres, governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, of which Saipan is part.
The news outlet said that on April 8 Governor Torres had sent a letter to the regulator expressing concern about use of junkets, in light of the Chinese government’s statements regarding likely blacklisting of any jurisdictions that sought to encourage Chinese citizens to gamble overseas, in tandem with China’s criminalisation of those that promote “cross-border” gambling.
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Report from the Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence
State of Victoria, Australia