Online Gaming: Bad Bet for Saipan?

So far, Saipan’s experience with gaming has been like a rollercoaster ride: a near-vertical climb, followed by a precipitous drop. Now the remote island group may double down on gaming—this time online—as a much-needed revenue source. In 2015 the CNMI’s only gaming hall, operated by Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International, opened as a temporary property in a local shopping mall. By 2016, the casino called Best Sunshine Live reported rolling chip revenues of more than $32 billion, rivaling even the Venetian Macau for VIP turnover. Then the house of cards tumbled. In April 2017, IPI faced charges that it had imported illegal Chinese workers to build its $3.1 billion beachfront resort (originally scheduled for completion in 2017, it is still unfinished). In 2018, reports emerged that the company was carrying billions of dollars in uncollected debt. Negative headlines kept mounting up: about missed payroll, unpaid contractors, fleeing executives, and a 70...

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