Opening was planned for first quarter
Gaming operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. hopes to amend its casino license agreement with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, extending the deadline to open its permanent casino on Saipan, reports Marianas Variety.
The firm said in January it would open the new Imperial Pacific Resort “in the first quarter of 2017,” reported GGRAsia, with a possible soft opening on March 31. Now Mark Brown, CEO of the unit that operates the company’s temporary Best Sunshine Live casino, has sent a letter to CNMI officials requesting the extension of several deadlines related to the construction of the casino.
These reportedly include an extension of the company’s temporary casino operations at Best Sunshine Live from April 30 to October 31, and an extension of the deadline to complete construction and open from August 11 to February 11, 2018. The company is also seeking to extend the deadline to complete and begin operations of Phase I of the casino resort from February 11, 2018 to May 1, 2023.
The company blamed the delay on “extensive damage to the construction site and office” caused by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015. Best Sunshine also cited a shortage of skilled construction workers; limited building supplies; and other conditions caused by the storm.
CNMI Governor Ralph Torres told Variety Imperial Pacific has not breached its original agreement. “For the record, of course it’s in the agreement that Imperial Pacific has to finish the construction of the casino hotel by this year and we can see that it is working every day to meet the deadline,” Torres said. “But as we all know, the typhoon caused six months of delay and there’s a shortfall of manpower and a shortfall of cement supplies. But there’s no violation. We are reviewing the agreement to allow an extension and to address concerns.”
According to Forbes’ Muhammad Cohen, Imperial Pacific controlling shareholder Cui Lijie purchased $100 million in company bonds to support the permanent casino’s development. Despite that cash infusion, IPI is still short about $200 million to complete the luxury integrated resort, reported CalvinAyre.com.