Pacific Islands

Typhoon Soudelor, which slammed into the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands in August, has dealt a heavy blow to the tourism industry there and put the survival of its struggling casino at risk.

The US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands issued a forfeiture warrant for the $2.5 million already turned over to the federal government by the Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd., which is doing business as Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, Marianas Variety newspaper reported.

Tinian Entertainment Chairman Wilfred Lam has written to the island’s Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas, expressing concern over $100,000 in investigation fees the company paid to the casino regulator, saying the money was spent long before any probe began.

TEC, a unit of Hong Kong’s China Strategic Holdings, is seeking to take over the license to operate the troubled Tinian Dynasty Hotel. It is embroiled in a war of words with the commission, which it claims is dragging its feet over the licensing process.

Tinian’s gaming commission has declared that Tinian Entertainment’s casino license application to operate the embattled Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino is substantially complete.

The license approval follows an agreement between Tinian Entertainment Co, the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission and Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Limited to proceed with transitioning control of the complex after HK Entertainment was in June fined $75 million by U.S. federal authorities for allegedly violating the country’s anti-money-laundering rules.

Imperial Pacific International, which is planning to build a $7.1 billion integrated resort on Saipan, last month signed an agreement to purchase 11 hectares of land from a private landowner in Tanapag Village for $3.2 million.

Tinian Dynasty owner Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd. announced that the closure of its casino could happen before the end of the month, citing low tourist arrivals and negative cash flow, according to local media.

Bridge Investment Group has chosen global leisure design firm, YWS Design, to masterplan its Tinian Ocean View Resort, the companies said in a press release.

Imperial Pacific International Holdings, a casino license holder on the island of Saipan, reported a net loss of HK$168.8 million ($21.8 million) in 15H1, compared with a loss of HK$19.6 in the prior corresponding period.

When Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific nnounced it was doubling the size of its planned casino development on the South Pacific islnd of Saipan to $7 billion some analysts began scratching their heads.

Tinian’s Mayor called a meeting to notify municipal employees, whose positions are funded by casino gaming revenues, that their contracts may not be renewed for as long as the casino doors remain closed.