In the Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands, there is set to be no limit placed on the number of junket operators that will be able to conduct business at The Grand Mariana Casino Hotel And Resort once the development opens early next year.

According to a report from the Saipan Tribune newspaper, the Commonwealth Casino Commission last week granted its first one-year provisional junket license to South Korean firm Big Bang Entertainment, which is owned by Du Young Jang, and is currently investigating the applications of around 17 additional firms.

“No number [limit] for the junket operators,” Edward Deleon Guerrero, Executive Director for the Commonwealth Casino Commission, told the Saipan Tribune. “The live training facility that currently operates only has five VIP rooms but when The Grand Mariana [Casino Hotel And Resort] opens it will have a bigger number of VIP rooms to accommodate those who come here to play.”

Junket operators arrange trips for high net worth casino players and Big Bang Entertainment is now seeking final official approval for an agreement with Best Sunshine International Limited, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited and will operate The Grand Mariana Casino Hotel And Resort on the island of Saipan, after having the initial terms of a deal provisionally endorsed two weeks ago.

“The junket operators are a necessary part of the gaming industry and we are competing in a regional area and you have the likes of Macau and Singapore,” Guerrero told the newspaper. “Right now, Saipan is the fifth most favorite destination by Chinese tourists and we are also fifth in the casino gaming world behind Macau, Las Vegas, Singapore and the Philippines. Now we are on the world map.”

Regarding the remaining under-consideration license applications, Guerrero declared that all candidates are required to go through a number of checks to verify their credit facilities along with their role, wealth and delegation procedures.

“All the applicants are still under review,” said Guerrero. “We have implemented additional review process, where we are working with the casino operator to have it vet the junket operators too, beginning from the financial perspective. Currently, [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited] goes through a vetting process before they issue a credit to their VIPs. Once [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited] approves the issuance of the credit process, then it will issue a letter of intent to transact with this company as a junket operator. It would then submit that to the Commonwealth Casino Commission including their findings along with the letter of intent that it would do business with that operator.

“At that, the Commonwealth Casino Commission would continue to screen the criminal and association background checks from the time the application was submitted and the fees are paid. Once we get the letter of intent and [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited’s] findings, we then assess whether or not the applicant requires further vetting and we will assess a minimum amount for investigation purposes. So, if [Imperial Pacific International Holdings Limited] refuses to issue the letter of intent, then that application stops. We do not entertain it anymore.”