Posted on: May 1, 2023, 07:50h.
Last updated on: May 1, 2023, 07:50h.
The floundering casino operator behind Saipan’s Imperial Palace casino, Imperial Pacific International (IPI), continues to prove why it doesn’t deserve a gaming license. It has failed to miss payments to the government to operate and owes millions in unsettled credit debt and lawsuits. It just added another unpaid debt to the list, although is once again trying to find an excuse.
IPI had to pay over $250,000 to the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands’ Department of Public Lands (DPL). The payment is for a mandatory security deposit for the land lease for Imperial Palace as part of an agreement dating back more than a decade.
In addition, IPI made a partial rent payment last November, but left an outstanding balance of just over $179,000. Media outlet Saipan Tribune reported that the DPL gave the operator an extension of 30 days to pay the outstanding funds, making the deadline April 30. That day came and went, with only another excuse coming out of IPI.
IPI has a history of making empty promises in an effort to hold onto its casino exclusivity in Saipan, despite not offering any activity for three years. This time, leading up to the new payment deadline, the company said it is “waiting for funds” and “will be making payments.”
Apart from not staying up to date on its land lease payments, or its payments to the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC), IPI faces allegations of violating other conditions of its contract with DPL. Namely, it allegedly hasn’t maintained fire and damage insurance, as required, with the department as a beneficiary.
The company also failed to prove it carried general liability insurance that lists DPL and the CNMI government as co-insured. IPI has also neglected to submit to DPL copies of all its licenses and annual corporate statements.
As a result of the new errors, IPI may be in default of its lease. What that means in the real world isn’t clear, as the CNMI government has repeatedly shown that it isn’t willing to take the necessary steps to punish the company appropriately for its actions.
Heading To The Big Pineapple
There may be some type of resolution later this month. The CCC and IPI are headed to court-ordered arbitration, although even this decision has been questionable.
The meetings will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii, from May 23 to 25. Leading it will be Thomas J. Brewer, a renowned global arbiter and a member of the American Arbitration Association and the International Center for Dispute Resolution.
However, according to Marianas Variety, Brewer doesn’t maintain an office in Honolulu, making it an odd destination to have been selected. The CNMI government will spend at least $350,000 to send the CCC to Hawaii, 18 hours away by air, and cover the cost of the arbitration.
Normally, the CCC would be responsible for covering the costs of any arbitration. However, as of last September, IPI still owed it over $9 million in unpaid regulatory fees and at least $46 million in casino license fees. As a result, the commission has no money to cover any of its expenses.
That debt is in addition to the millions IPI owes through court-ordered judgments, with company assets now up for auction to cover those bills. However, even IPI’s own lawyer, Samuel Salyer, has acknowledged that there will likely be additional judgments from other legal cases.