Imperial Pacific Could Permanently Lose Saipan Casino License in Two Months

Home » Imperial Pacific Could Permanently Lose Saipan Casino License in Two Months

Posted on: March 23, 2022, 08:26h. 

Last updated on: March 23, 2022, 08:26h.

Imperial Pacific International has been living on borrowed time for the past year. The company could permanently lose its casino license in Saipan, but just won a temporary reprieve that will delay any action.

Imperial Palace at night
Saipan’s Imperial Palace at night, when it was operational. Imperial Pacific International could be just two months away from permanently losing its license to operate the property. (Image: PNC News First)

Imperial Pacific International (IPI) is trying desperately to hang onto its casino license in Saipan. In theory, its exclusivity to run Imperial Palace, the only casino allowed, should have been a great achievement. In practice, however, it has been a disaster.

The company has repeatedly failed to meet numerous obligations, mostly centered on its financial responsibilities. IPI’s had its license suspended last year and a judge ruled earlier this month that the suspension was valid. A permanent suspension is possible, but IPI figured out another way to delay the process.

IPI Hangs on by a Thread

The Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) in the Northern Mariana Islands scheduled a hearing for this month to consider a permanent revocation of IPI’s license. At the last minute, IPI convinced officials to postpone the meeting, according to the Saipan Tribune.

The company argued that it needed more time in order to corral its legal team in the US and bring it to face the CCC. It was a successful stall tactic, as the CCC agreed to give IPI a two-month stay.

The executive director of the CCC, Andrew Yeom, caved in to the request, justifying the decision by recognizing that this is the very last chance IPI has. He added that, in authorizing the delay, it also, hopefully, prevents IPI from appealing the outcome on the grounds that the CCC rushed the process.

The Imperial Palace casino closed in March 2020 because of COVID-19. It is still closed today, the result of IPI’s ongoing financial problems. It owes $18.6 million in outstanding regulatory and license fees from 2020. In addition, it has an outstanding debt of $20 million for community benefit fund contributions from 2018 and 2019.

The company also has a number of outstanding debts with private companies. These provided services in conjunction with the development of Imperial Palace, but IPI ultimately couldn’t pay. Another construction firm just hit it last week with a lawsuit for $2 million over unpaid bills. The company has ignored court orders to come clean. Meanwhile, fines continue to increase due to its inability to adhere to regulations and obligations.

Yeom, who expressed his frustration over the delay, added that this is the last stop for IPI. Either it pays all of its outstanding bills or it will lose its license for good.

Asset Sale On Hold

If IPI were as adept at operating a casino as it is making excuses, Imperial Palace would have been a huge success. In addition to the license hearing delay, it also figured out how to delay the sale of assets to cover its debt.

A court judge put IPI in receivership last year to liquidate assets to pay down the money it owes. It miraculously found $2 million last December just before the first sale and has now figured out another way to delay the process.

The judge granted a stay of the receivership following a convoluted process involving U.S.A. Fanter, the company that started this chapter of the saga, seven former workers and IPI. Fanter and the workers, who successfully sued over human rights violations, made an agreement that allowed the seven individuals to assume the receivership.

As a result, the workers will assume all of the rights Fanter previously held. They won’t enforce their $6 million judgment immediately. Instead, if IPI can come up with a bond worth $6 million by June 30, they won’t take any action.

Based on IPI’s history, it’s a longshot. The CCC’s hearing in May could play a role in that receivership, as well. Should the company lose its license, it will likely argue in court that it cannot be held accountable to the receivership since it is no longer active in the Northern Mariana Islands.

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