Representatives of the Commonwealth Casino Commission on Saipan say that imposing an additional tax on the local casino industry – in the form of a 10 percent tax on casino gaming revenue – would not be appropriate at present, reported the Marianas Variety newspaper.
Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd has the exclusive right to a casino licence on Saipan, the main island of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The firm has been operating a temporary casino (pictured) on Saipan via a local unit called Best Sunshine International Ltd.
In a meeting with members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, representatives of the Commonwealth Casino Commission said Best Sunshine is already paying taxes, including an exclusive licence fee, gross revenue tax and other regulatory fees.
Representative Edmund S. Villagomez has proposed a 10 percent tax on casino gaming revenue on top of the business gross revenue tax the company pays, reported the Marianas Variety.
Best Sunshine’s temporary casino has achieved a monthly VIP table game rolling chip turnover average of US$2.25 billion in the first six months of 2016, according to regulatory filings by the parent company. The temporary casino’s unaudited VIP table games rolling chip turnover generated for June was US$1.66 billion.
The firm’s US$25-million temporary casino began operations in November. It had a total of 16 VIP gaming tables and 32 mass tables in the first quarter.
The Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero was quoted saying on Tuesday that given the taxes that Best Sunshine already pays and the size of its investment in Saipan, a 10 percent additional tax “may not be prudent at this time”.
“Let’s give them a year after the Grand Mariana is completed,” Mr Guerrero reportedly said, in a reference to the under-construction Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort.
Best Sunshine started the construction of its US$500-million Grand Mariana casino resort in mid-2015. According to the firm, the venue will feature 350 hotel rooms, 15 villas, more than 200 gaming tables, 400-plus slot machines, several restaurants, a beach club and a night club.
The Grand Mariana is expected to open in the first quarter of 2017, according to earlier announcements by Imperial Pacific. But the property might open earlier, likely “at the end of this year”, Mark Brown, chief executive of Best Sunshine, told GGRAsia in an interview in May.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings