In the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the operator behind the under-construction Imperial Palace Saipan has reportedly asked for a nine-year abatement to its annual $15.5 million casino licensing fee.
According to a Monday report from Inside Asian Gaming, the move from Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited comes after the Hong Kong-listed firm accused the government for the American territory of breaching an exclusivity clause contained within the pair’s casino license agreement by allowing a slew of area slot parlors to remain operational.
Inside Asian Gaming reported that the request was contained within a letter written by Donald Browne, Chief Executive Officer for Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited, and sent to Governor Ralph Torres (pictured). The source detailed that the appeal moreover comes as the casino firm is engaged in multiple lawsuits concerning unpaid contractor fees alongside a long-running row over an alleged failure to meet its financial obligations to a plethora of local vendors.
In asking for the annual fee be postponed until 2029, Browne reportedly declared that the license agreement inked in August of 2014 stipulated that his firm was to be granted ‘exclusively to operate casino gaming activity on the island of Saipan.’ However, he purportedly stated that the government for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands ‘has not only allowed casino games to operate outside of the exclusive license holder’ but also caused ‘irreparable harm’ to its revenues by permitting such operations to proliferate.
Reportedly read the letter from Browne…
“There is no exclusion anywhere in the casino license agreement that allows for other parties to operate casino games. Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited did not expect the exclusive rights to casino gaming activity to be so easily breached. Allowing poker machines and eGaming to operate outside of the casino is a violation of the exclusive license Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited holds.”
It was also reported that Saipan currently hosts a pair of large slot parlors offering a combined portfolio of about 310 electronic gaming machines. The source moreover pronounced that there are an additional 500 machines spread across dozens of smaller venues on the island of around 52,000 people, which are said to be hurting the ability of Imperial Palace Saipan to attract local gamblers in the time of coronavirus.
The abatement request reportedly comes after Torres had earlier threatened to revoke Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited’s local casino license due to the fact that the firm has yet to make its most recent $15.5 million payment. The Republican leader purportedly used a letter of his own to proclaim that this failure constitutes a ‘material breach of the stipulated agreement’ and has resulted in the firm’s Saipan operation being ‘suspended until such time as the annual casino license fee is paid in full.’