Saipan casino operator swings to loss in 2018

Imperial Pacific posted a significant loss for the year ended December 31, 2018, blaming the results on falling revenue, rising impairment losses of trade receivables, and increased expenses in the year.

Said loss amounted to HK$2.97 billion (US$378.4 million), down from a profit of HK$637.5 million in the prior year.

IPI said this was due mainly to a drop in revenue, which decreased 58.2 percent to HK$3.3 billion in 2018, down from HK$7.8 billion recorded in the prior year.

The casino’s VIP business, long known as the company’s bread and butter, saw VIP gaming revenue fall 60.4 percent to HK$2.9 billion in the year, while VIP rolling chip volume fell 67.3 percent to HK$126.3 billion.

Revenue from mass gaming operations also took a hit in the year, falling 31 percent to HK$209 million.

IPI said its casino was adversely affected by Typhoon Yutu, which closed the Saipan international airport for almost an entire month in October 2018.

However, looking ahead, IPI said it sees visitation recovering and with four new junket licenses approved by the Commonwealth Casino Commission, it expects to commence collaboration with gaming promoters in the coming year

“Having the advantage of CNMI’s relatively low tax regime, we believe we will be able to offer very competitive commission rates to potential gaming promoters,” said the company in a statement.

The multi-billion dollar resort has been plagued by problems ranging from an illegal worker scandal to repeated construction delays due to weather and labor-related issues.

The Commonwealth Lottery Commission granted an extension in September last year until February 2021 to complete the initial phase of the casino, which includes hotel facilities.