Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd says a portion of the casino resort development it is currently building on the island of Saipan will “partially” open by September 30. The group is already operating a casino on Saipan.
In a brief announcement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Imperial Pacific said a portion – i.e., “phase one” – of its project, which it referred to as “Imperial Palace Saipan” would “partially” open “on or before” the end of the third quarter of this year. The firm has previously referred to “Imperial Pacific Resort”, when talking about its Saipan scheme as a whole (pictured in a file photo).
The latest filing didn’t clarify whether the facility to be partially opened would include hotel accommodation.
Saipan is part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a United States possession in the western Pacific Ocean.
The launch of Imperial Pacific’s resort has been pushed back over the course of several years. The developer had at one stage pledged to the local authorities to open a portion of the hotel accommodation at the casino resort by March 2017.
After that deadline passed without such hotel space being opened, the casino promoter was permitted to launch a permanent casino on the resort site in July 2017, prior to the hotel being completed. The Saipan casino regulator issued in August last year a fresh deadline, February 2021, for what was termed the initial phase of the resort.
In February, the Saipan Tribune newspaper quoted the developer as saying building work on the “initial gaming facility” would be completed this year, although fewer than 300 construction workers were employed on the site.
In its interim report for 2018 filed in September, Imperial Pacific said the “initial gaming facility” would consist of “a minimum number of hotel rooms, gaming area, food and beverages outlets, retail and meeting space, villa hotel etc”.
The same report reiterated the completed resort was due to have a 329-room hotel with a rating of either four or five stars; a gaming area covering 14,140 square metres (152,202 sq feet); villas; restaurants; shops; and meeting space.
Labour shortages and public disputes between workers and management have reportedly contributed to delays on the scheme. Last month, workers who said they were formerly employed on the site stated they would sue a unit of Imperial Pacific, alleging that they were victims of human trafficking and used as forced labour. Imperial Pacific has made prior denials of mistreatment of workers.
Imperial Pacific has been running a gaming operation on the project site since the middle of 2017 and had previously been running an interim facility called Best Sunshine Live.
In March, Imperial Pacific International reported that it made a loss of almost HKD2.97 billion (US$377.7 million) last year, having made a profit of about HKD637.5 million the year before. The company’s annual revenue fell by 58.2 percent to HKD3.25 billion last year.
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Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings