After last week announcing that it would not be extending the lease for the site of its temporary Best Sunshine Live casino past an April 30 deadline, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited has now reportedly asked the government for permission to keep the Saipan facility open for at least another six months.
According to a report from the local Marianas Variety newspaper, Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, which runs the casino in a former upscale Garapan shopping mall via its Best Sunshine International Limited subsidiary, recently requested official authorization to operate the interim venue at its present site until October 31.
Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited secured the exclusive casino license for Saipan from the government of the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands in August of 2015 before spending around $25 million to open the temporary Best Sunshine Live casino two months later. This facility has since been utilized as a live training venue for the under-construction and much larger Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan, which was due to have its “soft opening” by March 31, and ended its first year in operation by reporting annual VIP table games rolling chip turnover of nearly $32.37 billion.
Set to feature 200 to 300 gaming tables along with 300 to 400 slots, the $500 million Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan was designed by architectural practice Steelman Partners and had originally been due to open “by 2017 Chinese New Year”, which began on January 28, but Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited was subsequently forced to extend this deadline to the end of March following a series of delays.
Casting doubt on the latest revised opening date for the Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan, the Marianas Variety moreover reported that Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited has additionally requested government consent to put back this venue’s first day of play to May 1.
The newspaper cited Mark Brown, Chairman for Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, as explaining that the newest extensions are needed due to the construction site being extensively damaged by 2015’s Typhoon Saudelor along with problems in securing enough cement. The firm allegedly also blamed a lack of available skilled labor, unpredictable ground conditions, drainage issues, inclement weather and rights matters concerning construction tower cranes.
Further confirming the likelihood of a delay in the opening of the Imperial Pacific Resort And Hotel Saipan, the newspaper reported that Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited has additionally requested an over seven-year extension concerning the date of the inauguration of the development’s planned second phase to May 1, 2030.
The Marianas Variety declared that the extension requests have prompted the American territory’s Republican governor, Ralph Torres, to state that there is now an opportunity to “consider amending the license”, which is an eventuality provided for in the original agreements, in order to “slow the rate of development on the island of Saipan”. He reportedly proclaimed that altering the deal with Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited could allow officials to “plan for a more sustainable growth rate that allows for the island’s infrastructure, cultural and environmental impacts and other overall economic considerations” to keep pace with “the economic consequences resulting from the introduction of gaming” on the island.
“For the record, of course it’s in the agreement that [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited ] has to finish the construction of the casino hotel by this year and we can see that it is working every day to meet the deadline but, as we all know, the typhoon caused six months of delay and there’s a shortfall of manpower and a shortfall of cement supplies,” Torres told the newspaper. “But there’s no violation. We are reviewing the agreement to allow an extension and to address concerns. I am not saying that it cannot open on March 31. I don’t want to speak on [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited’s] behalf but I do know that there are some issues and there’s time for us to amend the contract because of the issues that were raised.”