IAG July 2014 - page 8

Cover Story
Game inTown
Hotel and Casino has struggled since opening
in 1998, Rota’s casino closed within months of opening, and
Saipan plans a new US$2 billion integrated resort. None of that’s
discouragingmore casinoplans for theNorthernMarianas Islands.
Multiple sources blame Tinian Dynasty’s operating and
NewownerMega StarsOverseas says it has spent $40million since
taking over last year, part of a $100 million-plus investment plan
that includes renovating Dynasty’s 404 guest rooms, adding 80
villas targeting high rollers, a spa, scuba center and water park. It
alsowants to bring in “world class hotel chain operators” to run the
TinianDynasty also plans to sign deals “with gaming promoters
that have extensive networks of agents and sub-agents throughout
China and Asia and leverage on their business experience with
gamingmarkets inMacau andother Asian countries so as to secure
a sustained flow of VIP gaming players to Tinian,”Mega Stars Chief
FinancialOfficerHenry Leung says.
MegaStars forecasts $315million ingaming revenue in 2017 for a
fully redeveloped TinianDynasty with 40 VIP tables, 10mass-market
tablesand 50machinegames. ItprojectsaverageVIP roll of $458,000.
In addition to partnering on a Saipan gaming license bid, Mega
Stars alsowants to build another casino resort on Tinianwith 1,000
rooms, a 36-hole golf course, cultural center and shopping. It is in
negotiations to lease a siteonpublic land.
TinianDynastyHotel andCasino
Bahamas boomed,” he says. But now those areas have numerous
convenient casinos. In Asia new or expanded gaming jurisdictions
such asMacau, Singapore and the Philippines reduce the appeal of
CNMI casinos, he says. However, theBahamas andother Caribbean
destinationsarecurrentlyseeing investment fromChinesecompanies
aimedat Chinese travelers, andCNMI hopes toget inon that action.
“Outbound tourismamongmainlandChinese issoaring, theyare
looking foroptionsbeyondHongKongandMacau, andSaipancould
be one of them,” Nicholas Niglio, CEO of Macau junket promoter
Neptune Group, says. “Whether this particular project is successful
remains tobe seen—somuchdepends on the quality of theproduct
and transportation issues.”
According to theMarianasVisitorAuthority,visitors frommainland
China toCNMIgrew43% to 112,570 in thefiscal yearendedSeptember
2013,making them the commonwealth’s third-biggest sourcemarket.
Overall visitor arrivals rose 11% to433,736over the same period. This
year, inFebruary andagain inMay, China supplanted JapanandSouth
Korea as CNMI’s top source of visitor arrivals. In a presentation to
potential investors,Mega Stars estimates Chinese tourist arrivalswill
reach 176,000 this year and251,000next year.
WithgrowingChinese tourism, low taxesandanuncertain regulatory
environment, Macau junket promoters seem like prime candidates
to invest inCNMI. “Junkets have somuchmoney, and you see them
moving into casinomanagement acrossAsia,”MrGushinnotes.
Other sources add that Macau junket promoters want to
diversity away from Macau. The other Saipan applicant, Best
Sunshine International, reportedly has ties to Macau junket
promoter Hengsheng Group through its Hong Kong-listed parent,
Imperial Pacific International Holdings. Hengsheng declined to
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