Imperial Palace planning to reopen Saipan casino in November

Imperial Palace planning to reopen Saipan casino in November
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Imperial Pacific International (IPI) has announced plans to reopen its Saipan casino, Imperial Palace • Saipan, by November.

Announcing its FY21 financial results on Friday, which saw loss narrowed from HK$7.39 billion a year earlier to HK$1.07 billion, IPI said it is close to finalizing a settlement agreement with the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) which would see the regulator drop efforts to revoke the company’s casino license.

The CCC had been looking to revoke IPI’s license for failure to comply with certain requirements under its license agreement, including failure to pay its annual US$15.5 million license fee in August 2020, failure to pay its annual US$3.1 million regulatory fee in October 2020, failure to contribute US$20 million to the community benefit fund in both 2018 and 2019, failure to comply with its minimum US$2 billion capital requirement and failure to comply with a CCC order to pay all money owing to its vendors.

The regulator suspended IPI’s license in April 2021, however IPI has argued that it should not be required to pay its annual license fees because it has been unable to operate Imperial Palace • Saipan since March 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which it says constitutes a force majeure.

On Friday, IPI said it was now “in the process of finalizing the settlement terms through a settlement agreement,” with the CCC.

“The Agreement is expected to be signed by the end of June 2022 and IPI is actively planning, under CCC’s guidance, for reopening by November 2022.”

It also claims to have engaged “major global construction companies, consulting firms, design and engineering firms as well as local sub-contractors” to complete construction work on its Saipan casino resort, which has already missed a series of construction deadlines in recent years. As of 31 December 2021, IPI had invested US$914 million into the property’s development, it said.

IPI also revealed last week that it has signed agreements with two independent third parties to lease a majority of its hotel rooms and villas, and to set up a shopping mall at Imperial Palace • Saipan.

“Once the travel restrictions in Saipan are lifted, the casino in Imperial Palace • Saipan shall resume operations and be opened to public,” IPI said.

“We expect the successional opening of villas and hotel rooms of Imperial Palace • Saipan, subject to the lifting of the global travel restrictions, will enhance our capacity to welcome visitors to Saipan.”