Thursday, March 02, 2017

Lina'la' GaiCasino

Ngai'an na para u mababa i nuebu na casino giya Saipan?

Hu taitaitai este na attikulu siha, lao ti siguro yu'.

På'go na mes hun?

Guaguaha ha' inetnon giya Guåhan.

I na'ån-ña "Lina'la' Sin Casino."

Sa' mandanña' siha para u kontra i binaban un casino giya Guåhan.

Lao ti apmam para u tutuhon i tiempon Lina'la' GaiCasino giya Saipan.

Ta li'e' kao maolek probecho este na hinatsa.


 Saipan casino set for March opening amid investor fears
by Daniel Beitler
Macau Daily Times
March 3, 2017

The USD600 million Imperial Pacific casino-hotel in Saipan is scheduled to open by the end of the month, though the company responsible for operating it, Best Sunshine International, has analysts and investors concerned over the accuracy of reported revenue from its temporary casino, which it claims measures in the billions.

Last year the company reported that it took in more than USD32 billion (about MOP256 billion) from high-rollers at just 16 VIP tables. Meanwhile, scores of casinos in Macau recorded a combined USD28 billion in gaming revenues (MOP223 billion) during the same year.

However, according to a Forbes article authored by Asian gaming writer Muhammad Cohen, the casino’s impressive VIP returns have spurned skepticism from industry analysts and former gaming regulators who suspect the figures might be manipulated to distort the company’s true market value.
According to Imperial Pacific reports, every month some 100 VIP visitors contribute an average of $27 million each to its revenue, while each of its 16 VIP tables generates a daily average of $5.6 million in bets. That figure is estimated to be four times greater than that recorded in Macau prior to the gaming slump.

However some research analysts are concerned that unpaid debts from players may add up to almost 90 percent of the resort’s VIP revenue, compared to the Asian average of just 14 percent, representing a substantial liability to the company.

There are also mounting concerns that, should the integrated resort not open at the end of this month as scheduled, regulators may consider revoking the company’s license to operate.

The integrated resort slated to open this month is valued at around $7 billion, or one-third of Cotai 2.0.

Imperial Pacific International Holdings, which owns the casino through its subsidiary Best Sunshine International, is majority-owned by Hong Kong billionaire Cui Lijie. 

Rumors are circling that Best Sunshine CEO Mark Brown will be moving to chairman of the company, making way for its current chief operating officer, Kwong Yiu-ling, to take up the CEO’s post. Kwong has a history in Macau, having spent three decades with SJM holdings before working as an executive at the Altira Macau and as executive vice president of casino operations at MGM Macau.

Saipan is not much further away than Macau by air travel, for high-rollers based in either Beijing or Shanghai, but is significantly closer than other casino destinations in the region, like Singapore or Cambodia.


Macau Comes to America on Pacific Island Saipan
by Muhammad Cohen
March 1, 2017

A Hong Kong billionaire and her son appear to be building a casino juggernaut on a remote U.S. outpost, the island of Saipan. A shiny beachfront casino-hotel is under construction, but meanwhile Chinese gamblers are betting huge amounts at their temporary casino in a nearby shopping mall--or at least it seems so.

The casino reports that last year it raked in losing bets from high rollers totaling $32.4 billion at its mere 16 VIP tables in the middle of the Pacific. That's $3.5 billion more than the giant Venetian Macao did at more than 100 VIP  tables at the hub of the world's most lucrative casino destination, and the gap is widening. In the fourth quarter, Saipan's reported $11.6 billion VIP roll beat the Venetian's $6.9 billion. Each VIP table in Saipan is generating a daily average of $5.6 million in bets, four times Macau's average during its high-roller heyday.

By Imperial Pacific's numbers, every month its 100 or so VIP visitors each roll an average of $27 million. "Saipan has benefited from the ongoing crackdown on political corruption and conspicuous consumption waged by the Chinese central government," says Global Market Advisors senior partner Andrew Klebanow. "Much of that business has come from VIP play that once went to Macau."
There's plenty to like for Chinese tourists, who can't bet at home because the mainland has long banned casino gambling. The island is a U.S. territory, but they get visa-free entry, a legacy of exemptions from U.S. immigration and labor laws that once made Saipan a low-wage producer of "Made in U.S.A." garments. VIPs see U.S. sovereignty as a big advantage. "Chinese players want places with political stability," explains Tony Tong, who invests in and advises junket operations that bring Chinese gamblers to casinos in Asia, Australia and Europe. "It guarantees the safety of patrons."

Direct flights from Shanghai to Saipan take four hours and 20 minutes; from Beijing it's five hours and 40 minutes--two hours longer than a trip to Macau but shorter than flying to Singapore or beach spots such as Bali or Phuket. In 115 square kilometers, nearly twice the size of Manhattan, Saipan offers clean air and water, dramatic scenery and golf. There is also a lot of history--50,000 Americans, Japanese and islanders died in the 25-day Battle of Saipan in 1944, and nuclear bombers attacked Japan from neighboring Tinian. Saipan voters may never have wanted a casino, but arrivals of Chinese tourists are increasing rapidly--from 46,451 in fiscal 2011 to 206,538 in fiscal 2016, which ended last September. Total arrivals rose by a virtually identical number, to 501,179.


$7 Billion Saipan Casino's Future May Be at Risk
by Carrie Hong and Daniela Wei
December 23, 2016

A bond offering that gaming operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. planned to use to fund construction of a new casino on the remote Pacific island of Saipan has been put on hold, according to people with knowledge of the matter, raising questions about the project’s future.

The firm had planned to raise $200 million to $400 million, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. Investors wanted a higher yield than the 10 percent to 11 percent that the Hong Kong-listed company was willing to offer, the people said. Imperial Pacific, with a market value of $1.9 billion, planned to use the funds for the first phase of its new casino in the U.S. territory that was slated to open next year. It’s currently operating there from a temporary facility.

With the bond off the table for now, Imperial Pacific loses a key source of financing for its casino project, ultimately envisioned to cost $7 billion and encompass 20, six-star hotels and 11 casinos. Its current facility, Best Sunshine Live casino, posted daily per-table VIP revenue of about $170,000 in the first half of 2016, almost eight times the average of Macau’s largest casinos, according to company filings.

Imperial Pacific declined to comment on the status of its bond offering or its operations generally.
Some potential bond investors traveled to Saipan to tour the construction site in late September and met with the island’s tourism board and the casino commission that oversees Imperial Pacific, according to the people. Subsequently, investors and the company couldn’t agree on terms, the people said.

Regulatory Risk

The reason, they said, was that the pricing of the security didn’t sufficiently compensate them for the possible risk that Saipan’s gaming laws could someday change and make it more difficult for Imperial to operate there, according to the people. The deal was dropped by two of the lead underwriters in October, the people said.

The casino commission didn’t respond to an e-mail and phone messages seeking comment on the investors’ trip and their concern about possible regulatory changes.

Last month, Moody’s Investors Service assigned Imperial Pacific a B2 credit rating, five levels below investment grade, and put it under review for a possible downgrade because of the delay in selling bonds to help finance the project.

The company’s receivables, which mainly comprise credit loaned to customers for gambling, tripled in the first half on unpaid bills of VIP gamblers, and it had enough cash to cover 18 percent of its short-term debt as of June 30, according to a company interim report.

Imperial Pacific shares dropped 1 percent to close at HK$0.104 in Hong Kong Friday. They are down 38 percent this year.

Moody’s said its review will focus on the company’s “ability to secure sufficient long-term funding” as well as the “management of money-laundering risk to ensure that its gaming business in Saipan is sustainable.”

"Potential investors would start to question what other alternatives might be available for the company," said Raymond Chia, head of credit research for Asia ex-Japan at Schroder Investment Management Ltd. in Singapore.

Mark Brown, Imperial Pacific’s chief executive officer and a former senior executive in U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s Atlantic City casino operations, said in an interview last month that the Saipan operation complies with all relevant money-laundering and other regulations, and that bets are closely monitored by local and U.S. regulators. The new, multi-billion-dollar resort is aimed at attracting more Chinese gamblers and becoming a tourist draw within Asia, he said.


 Site visit wows casino commission staff, officials
Press Release
Commonwealth Casino Commission
February 16, 2017

Officials of the Commonwealth Casino Commission toured Imperial Pacific International, Ltd.’s mega-million casino and resort project in Garapan on Tuesday.

Casino commission staff and officials composed of chair Juan Sablan, vice chair Joseph C. Reyes, commissioner Alvaro A. Santos, commissioner Justin Manglona, and executive director Edward Deleon Guerrero toured the site in order to facilitate planning for the casino’s upcoming soft opening.
Overall, commission officials were “very impressed” with the project’s progress.

Imperial Pacific and the Commonwealth Casino Commission have been working to ensure the project’s success, which is directly correlated with the success of the CNMI economy. Imperial Pacific thanks the casino commission for its support of the industry and looks forward to many productive years for the CNMI.

Imperial Pacific Resort and Hotel is being touted as the single largest investment in the Pacific region. For more than a year now, over 2,000 workers have been laboring to meet its 2017 completion date.
With this year’s opening, Imperial Pacific Resort and Hotel is expected to position the Northern Marianas as one of the top gaming travel destinations in the world. (PR)

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