IAG APRIL 2016 - page 8

Cover Story
AboutthesizeofSanFrancisco, Saipan
is the largest island
in theCommonwealthof theNorthernMarianas Islands, aUSPacific
possession 2,000 kilometers (1,260 miles) from Tokyo and 2,900
kilometers from Shanghai. While casino gaming is new to Saipan,
CNMI islands Tinian andRota began licensing casinos in the 1990s.
Rota’s casino closed within weeks of opening. Tinian Dynasty, after
incurring fines for violating anti-money regulations last June, has
mainly been closed since. Other groups holding casino licenses on
those two islands sporadically rumble about moving ahead. Each
island has its own gaming commission and tax regime. On Saipan,
Best Sunshine pays a $15million annual licensing fee plus 5% gross
receipts tax on all revenue, includinggamingwin.
Just ahead of casino legalization, Saipan authorized slot clubs,
and three have opened in island hotels. The largest, Club C in
Kanoa Resort, withMacau’s IGamiX as management operator, has
140 gaming positions, a restaurant, bar and nightly entertainment.
Ubiquitouspokermachines cater to locals, and, unlikepenny slots in
other gaming venues,minimumbets areUS$0.25.
IAG:WithBest Sunshine, it’s impossible to ignore that
bignumber, US$7.1billion. It’s especiallydifficult since
you’re talkingabout an islandwith50,000peopleand
half amillionannual tourist arrivals that’s four hours
fromanywhere. Not justUS$7.1billion, but theproposed
4,252 rooms, 300villas, 1,600gaming tables and3,500
slotmachines:whatmakes thosenumbers right for Best
I’veheard theUS$7 billionnumber.Our plan
is actuallymore than that. I take a stepback as I’m talking to
investors. Look at what we’vedone from the temporary facility,
generating thesenumberswith a small number of tables inside a
shoppingmall inSaipan. That’s stepone.
We are building andgot approval in full for aUS$500-to-600
millionproperty across the street, GrandMariana, whichwill have
between400 and 500 slotmachines, about 250 to 300 table games
and 374 suites. The beachfront piece ismodeled after theOne and
Only resort inDubai. Thiswill openup at the endof this year, call
itNewYear’s Eve grandopening, basically the casinoblock, beach
front,mass gamingfloor, junket rooms, ballroom and restaurants.
Thehotel blockwill continue tobe built andwill open in the first
quarter of 2017, call it April for full buildingopening.Now that’s
buildingone, and I look at that as abeautiful Sands [Macao].
The secondone is our bigproperty, whichwill be roughly 1,000
rooms, roughly costUS$1 billion. Soproperty one, property two,
anywhere between abillion-five and twobillion, that’s howwe are
looking at it.We are going for theRFP [Request for Proposal] inMay
for theparcel of land.
IAG: That’sKanPacific’sMarianaResort site?
Correct.We have a full blownplan for that site. Butmy point
is that US$7 billion dollars is a plus-plus-plus. It is an investment
from our company, but it doesn’t have to all come fromus.We
can have partners joining us from other gaming companies, hotel
companies. It’sUS$7 billionworth of investments. I keep saying,
we’re going to spend and investmore than that. But it’s not a
US$7 billion building that we are building on Saipan – and that’s
how it’s beenwritten –GrandMariana, US$7 billionproperty. No,
we are not buildingCity Center [MGM’sUS$9 billion Las Vegas
project] right out of the gate.
buildings.The site ishuge.
That’sa city, ourversion
of theCotai Stripwith11
hotelsandnine casinos,
villasandhomesand condos,
the largestwaterpark in
theworld, shopping. It’san
astounding site.
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