Imperial Pacific Proposes Severance Amid Casino Turmoil


In a dramatic turn of events, Imperial Pacific International, the Hong Kong-based entity with exclusive rights to operate the only commercial casino in the Northern Mariana Islands, has proposed a severance arrangement to the American territory. The once much-heralded Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan stands abandoned, its doors closed and its future mired in uncertainty. The resort’s developer now seeks to negotiate the termination of its obligations to manage the integrated resort casino, with an offer that extends into the tens of millions of dollars to sever its contractual ties.

Imperial Pacific, an empire under the auspices of Chinese billionaire Cui Lijie, faces the ignominy of its fall. Cui, initially a doctor, ventured over ten years ago into the casino industry through her investment in Macau’s prominent junket operator, Heng Sheng. It was with towering ambition that she and her son Ji Xiaobo secured in 2013 the sole casino concession for the Northern Mariana Islands, enticing the Pacific government with a vision of a multibillion-dollar luxury gaming and leisure destination. In return for the exclusive casino license, Imperial Pacific assured a multitude of commitments to the territory—an assurance now held in contention by officials.

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Laden with promise yet fraught with misfortune, the development of Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan, initially estimated at a colossal $3.9 billion, became an ill-fated enterprise. Tragedy struck and controversy swirled with an FBI investigation into the construction site following a worker’s death, unpaid labor, and unsafe working conditions. Furthermore, a transient casino, operating during resort construction, attracted scrutiny over money laundering suspicions after reporting unprecedented revenue figures.

Indeed, the resort managed to open its luxurious $500 million first phase in mid-2017, a testament to grandeur with its lavish gold-adorned façade and interiors. However, soon after, as regulatory authorities applied stringent oversight over financial transactions, the casino’s revenue took a nosedive. Structural integrity concerns following reports of construction compromises only added to its woes. The combination of fiscal mismanagement and the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 proved to be the coup de grâce, leading to the resort’s indefinite closure.

The ongoing saga includes unresolved payments by Imperial Pacific, with government claims of major financial shortfalls in terms of gaming fees, regulatory costs, and community contributions—amounting to annual deficits since 2017 and 2021 for different obligations.

In a move to finalize its tumultuous chapter in the Northern Mariana Islands, Imperial Pacific has presented a termination agreement aiming to settle the entanglement of legal issues. This includes a proposed $47 million payment to address outstanding license fees and revoke the suspension of the casino license. Yet, resistance surfaces from NMI’s leadership, with Governor Arnold Palacios poised to reject the deal, despite anticipation of potential approval from the Commonwealth Casino Commission. With Imperial Pacific intent on ceding the dormant resort to its creditors, notably Kyosei Bank of Tokyo, the debacle has inflicted substantial financial damage, reportedly halving Cui’s wealth.

This unfortunate tale of a grand establishment succumbing to misfortune is a firm reminder of gaming’s risky nature. Yet the narrative of gambling is not confined solely to physical casinos. As the world pivots increasingly online, there is a burgeoning realm of gaming that continues to expand its reach.

In the realm of digital escapism, where the bright lights of Vegas are but a click away, the allure of online gambling remains undiminished. Across Canada, patrons seek the thrill of slots and the strategy of card games within the virtual corridors of the internet. Online casinos offer a convenient and immersive gaming experience, echoing the sensation of traditional houses of fortune without the need for travel. In anticipation of those eager to explore this cyber option, we at West Island Blog have collated a comprehensive list of top online casinos for the month. Here, interested players can find reputable gaming sites that promise safety, entertainment, and potential rewards, all from the comfort of their own homes.