A Saipan politician has called for the island’s gaming law to be revised to allow for more casino licenses to be issued amid growing concerns over the future of Imperial Pacific International’s (IPI) Imperial Pacific Resort.
Speaking to the Saipan Tribune this week, Rep. Edwin K Propst expressed grave doubts over the health of Saipan’s sole casino resort following lengthy construction delays, reports of ongoing payroll problems and the departure of two key executives over the past week.
“Because there’s only one licensee, perhaps we should revisit that and allow other casinos to compete,” Propst said. “Competition is good.
“Factoring all the recent events, we need to be very concerned about the future of our casino, because they are not just one competitor. This is a sole source, single license. It is a monopoly.
“It’s one thing if there were competitors and one was not doing well, while the other is thriving. But that’s not the case here. The frustration is that because if there’s only one license, if it fails, the entire casino industry fails.”
IPI was last week forced to issue a statement promising to pay all staff after experiencing “transfer issues” to fund the company’s payroll. The company also farewelled Chairman Marco Teng last week after seven months in the role, while Cai Lingli – a relative of majority owner Cui Li Jie – stepped down on Monday as a director of the company and chairperson of the executive committee.
Propst said that he wanted to see Imperial Pacific Resort succeed but suggested safeguards needed to be implemented after IPI revealed recently that it will miss its latest 31 August 2018 deadline for completion of the IR.
“I want the casino industry on Saipan to thrive but I also want it to be properly regulated and to follow all laws – local, federal, and environmental laws,” he said. “The fact that the casino license agreement has been amended five times to benefit the casino without benefitting the people is disappointing.
“The CNMI government must renegotiate its terms to include at the very least a completion or performance bond to ensure the casino hotel overlooking Garapan will be completed, even if IPI decides to leave or suspend their business operations.”