Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific International (IPI) avoided losing its monopoly license in Saipan yet again. For the fourth time, a judge of the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) this time postponing the meeting over IPI’s license by an additional 30 days to 8th July.
IPI’s Ongoing Dispute with the Commonwealth Casino Commission
The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Casino Commission (CCC) suspended IPI’s casino license in May 2021 as the company failed to pay its annual license fee of $15.5 million and its regulatory fee of $3.1 million for 2020. IPI also failed to fulfill the minimum capital requirement of $2 billion and it did not make its mandatory contribution of $20 million to the community benefit fund for 2018 and 2019.
In addition, IPI has a lot of unpaid debts to various vendors that have performed construction services in connection with the expansion of the Imperial Palace Casino in Saipan. However, so far IPI has managed to avoid the permanent revocation of its license by convincing the judge it expects to receive financing of $150 million from an investor called OH Group before the end of June and promising that this will help settle all of the company’s debts.
Skepticism on IPI Settling its Debts
Due to this IPI and CCC stated that they have “made significant progress towards settlement and require additional time to finalize the terms of the agreement in principle“ and judge Ramona Manglona of the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands issued the TRO postponing the hearing.
People have expressed doubts that IPI is going to fulfill its promises. For example, Democratic lawmaker Tina Sablan has stated:
This isn’t the first time that IPI has said financing is imminent. We’ve heard this before and we’ve even actually heard that exact amount. It was a couple of years ago when IPI was telling the legislature that they expected $150 million financing to suddenly materialize and then they’d be able to restart and complete the project.Democratic lawmaker Tina Sablan
Is the Saipan Imperial Palace Casino Project a Losing Bet?
IPI’s project of bringing the Saipan Imperial Palace Casino back to its glory has been met with many hurdles and delays and seems to have been mismanaged by the company since the beginning. This has led to mounting debts and lawsuits against IPI, which the company somehow succeeded in settling. Consequently, what seemingly should have been an endeavor bringing huge revenue, is turning into a streak of losses. Additional pressure on the operations is put by the fact that the casino has been closed since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.