After last week facing accusations that its Best Sunshine Live casino in the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands had become a “safe haven” for illicit Chinese money, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited has reportedly announced plans to conduct a local survey into problem gambling.

Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited operates the Best Sunshine Live casino on Saipan via its Best Sunshine International Limited subsidiary and the venue ended its first year in business last month by reporting a second highest monthly VIP chip turnover of $3.84 billion, which was only a 2.8% decrease from the all-time record of $3.95 billion seen in September.

According to a report from the Marianas Variety newspaper, Esther Milne, Legal And Compliance Manager for Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, revealed that the study should be complete by the end of the year and hopes to establish whether residents of the Pacific Ocean territory have a gambling problem. She reportedly explained that the process will involve a random public survey of people on the islands of Tinian, Saipan and Rota asking respondents whether they participate in any forms of gambling.

Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited secured an exclusive casino license for the island of Saipan in August of 2015 and subsequently spent $25 million to open the temporary Best Sunshine Live casino in a former Garapan shopping mall while beginning work on its nearby $500 million The Grand Mariana Casino And Hotel Resort, which is due to begin welcoming players in March.

Edward Deleon Guerrero, Executive Director for the Commonwealth Casino Commission reportedly told Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited that it should consider working in partnership with local community organizations such as the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Ayuda Network as part of its study into gambling.

However, the plan has not met with universal praise as local citizen Glen Hunter told the newspaper that any such study should be based on “court judgments”, “records of domestic violence and other criminal cases that involved problem gambling” and consultations with “law enforcement agencies” rather than “a self-confessional survey”.

“While it is great news to hear that the [Commonwealth Casino] Commission is now attempting to identify problem gamblers, I have to wonder why this wasn’t in place from the get-go,” Hunter told the Marianas Variety. “It appears from reviewing the presentation that the [Commonwealth Casino] Commission will be attempting to initially identify gambling addicts by random survey in which they ask the members of the public “if they think they have a gambling problem”. I have a strong feeling the [Commonwealth Casino] Commission survey will result in a false conclusion that there are no problem gamblers in the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands.”