Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd held the official opening of its “temporary casino” on the Pacific Island of Saipan on Friday. The venue – operated via a local unit called Best Sunshine International Ltd – will be used as a live-training casino facility until the opening of the permanent property, the firm has said.
“We are very excited, and it’s also all about giving thanks and having fun,” said Best Sunshine’s chief executive, Mark Brown, quoted by local newspaper Marianas Variety. “I thank everyone for joining us today – the staff, the government officials and the casino commission for working with us,” he added.
The casino property had a soft opening on July 26 with only 10 gaming tables in operation. On Friday, the property officially opened with 600 employees and about 45 gaming tables and 106 electronic gaming machines, said Mr Brown.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission has already licensed 39 baccarat tables, six poker tables and 106 electronic gaming machines or slot machines, the commission’s executive director, Edward Deleon Guerrero, told the Marianas Variety.
Mr Guerrero said the machines have all been audited, certified and licensed according to industry standards. Members of the commission have received specific training on how to regulate the casino industry, he added.
Imperial Pacific said in previous filings that VIP gaming operations at its temporary casino started on November 1. The firm has said that it expects to start collaboration with junket operators “from December 2015 onwards”.
Imperial Pacific has pledged to spend as much as US$7.1 billion on a permanent casino resort on Saipan, a Pacific island that forms part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The company started site construction for two hotels, with a total of 254 rooms, and gaming facilities in July. It said in an August filing that it expects construction work to be “fully complete within 16 months”.
Imperial Pacific has been shifting its focus to the casino industry and downsizing its investment in other business segments as it prioritises the development of the casino operations on Saipan.
The company – until last year known as First Natural Foods Holdings Ltd – also operates in the processing and trading of food products. On Thursday, it said that it agreed to sell one of its units that operates in the food distribution segment – Pacific Prosper Ltd – for a consideration of HKD500,001 (US$64,514).
The firm said it expects to record a gain arising from the disposal of Pacific Prosper of approximately HKD2.37 million, adding that it plans to use the proceeds as general working capital.
“The disposal agreement represents one of the group’s steps to reduce loss from this business segment and therefore the company could re-allocate most of its resources for the integrated resort business on the Island of Saipan,” Imperial Pacific said.
The Hong Kong-listed firm last week announced the appointment of veteran casino executive Yiu Ling Kwong as chief operating officer of the Saipan casino resort project. Mr Kwong most recently served as an executive vice president of casino operations for Macau-based MGM China Holdings Ltd.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau