Changes are coming to the gaming options offered in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Due to a sudden rise in taxes, MP Holdings LLC has decided to shut down almost 50% of its e-gaming machines. The company operates two venues in the region and will not be offering as many games due to the tax issues.
Details of the Shutdown
MP Holdings LLC operates the Club 88 property in Saipan as well as the Saipan Country Club. On August 27, Club 88 will shut down completely. This venue is home to 73 machines. A total of 30 employees will lose their jobs with the closure. The operator does not want to pay the double licensing fee set forth by the government in early August.
The decision comes shortly after the company closed the Saipan Country Club. This closure was made in an attempt to cut operation costs. MP Holdings LLC will still operate Saipan Vegas unless they decide to shut it down too.
A spokesman for MP Holdings, Gus Noble, stated that he has tried to speak with local officials in order to come to a better agreement but has yet to hear from anyone. The new law will require $2,500 per machine or 15% of the net revenues of the machine. This amount is on top of the current tax rate paid.
Operators already pay $100,000 for licensing of each venue and they cover a Business Gross Revenue and Tax of 5%. Noble reported that the plan by the government to raise more revenues is not going to work as the company will just take machines out of the equation.
New Casino License
The tax change comes just a few weeks after it was revealed that a second casino license may be in the works for CNMI. Two senators are reportedly working on providing a way to bring in another gaming venue. Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited currently has the only casino license in the region.
The company opened the Imperial Palace Saipan in 2017 but has experienced difficulty in completing the construction of a connected hotel tower. The casino was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the Commonwealth Casino Commission decided that the license of the operator would be suspended due to being unable to pay over $25 million in debt.
The new Senate Bill 22-23 details the issues surrounding Imperial Pacific and how a second casino license would provide assistance to the local gaming industry.