Imperial Pacific is the parent company of Best Sunshine International, the company that operates the Best Sunshine Live casino on Saipan Island, a part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Imperial Pacific recently announced that it is trying to get the U.S Federal government to ease the restrictions it has imposed on visas for CNMI workers.
In a statement, Mark Brown, chief executive officer of Imperial Pacific said “There is a cap of 12,999 workers for the transitional commonwealth-only worker-1 (or CW-1) program. We are dealing with the US federal government, trying to get that lifted to 20,000. We have 3,000 employees for our first building and we are going to have as many as 15,000 employees in future.”
Imperial Pacific has a 40-year gaming license to operate its Best Sunshine Live casino in Saipan and has currently been operating a temporary casino from July 2015. The temporary casino has 7 VIP tables, 6 premium mass tables, 32 mass gaming tables and 106 slot machines. The gaming facility has a rolling average of around $2 billion per month as it has had great success in attracting VIP gamblers from China. The company plans to open the main casino on Jan 28, 2017 which is the first day of the Chinese New Year. The new facility will have a total of 450 slot machines and 250 gaming tables. The casino is being designed by Steelman Partners LLP and is a part of the $7.1 billion investment project.
The company has hired a large number of overseas workers from the Philippines who have been working in Saipan for a number of years. These workers will be forced to go back to the Philippines due to the lack of available visas and could face difficulties as they no longer have homes in their country. The U.S government decided in October 2015 to lower the visa cap for the CW-1 program from 13,999 to 12,999 foreign workers in CNMI for the 2016 fiscal. The target was met earlier this May and a number of Filipino worker groups are pushing for long-term Filipino employees to be granted U.S citizenship as it will enable them to continue their work in Saipan and contribute to the tourism industry.
Based on the current law, the federal government will continue to decrease the number of non-immigrant workers who come under the CW-1 program every year, till the number drops to 0. The plan is to make this happen by the end of 2019 but employers and workers in CNMI are petitioning the government to increase the visa cap and extend the CW-1 program past 2019. Imperial Pacific stated that it hires contract employees from the Philippines as they have a lot more experience when it comes to Macau styled high roller gaming than employees in Las Vegas.
Brown stated that more work needed to be done to make Congressmen in Washington D.C. aware that the tourism and construction industries in Saipan require a large workforce to function properly.