A fire broke out on Monday at the construction site of a permanent casino project by gaming investor Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd. (IPI) in the Northern Mariana Islands on the Island of Saipan. This marks yet another significant setback in the construction of the permanent casino.
Only two weeks ago, IPI sought to amend its license agreement with the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Their request to extend the casinos deadline, which was set for a ‘soft opening’ at the end of March, is due to a variety of factors, including damage dealt by a Typhoon in 2015. IPI has not made any comments in regards to what delays the fire could cause in the construction.
This type of news certainly doesn’t bode well for and already struggling project. Although, authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire, initial reports suggest that the fire started when welding sparks fell onto construction material debris that had been piled up against the existing structure that would be the Imperial Pacific Resort Hotel Saipan. The fire was originally reported at 3 p.m. on Monday and the all-clear was not given until nearly four hours later. There were no injuries reported in the fire.
In the IPI’s original request to extend the deadline for the new casino was directly related to Typhoon Soudelor, which was considered the strongest tropical cyclone in the Asia Pacific region in 2015. The company mentioned other challenges it faces, such as “adverse weather conditions making the tower cranes inoperable” as well as other weather related complications. IPI also mentioned that they were faced with a “lack of readily available skilled laborers” to help complete the project.
IPI has the right to an exclusive casino license on the Island of Saipan and currently operates a temporary casino, Best Sunshine Live, out of a shopping mall on Saipan. A report released in February from the Marianas Variety revealed that IPI had requested an extension of its temporary casino operations until as late as October 31, 2017. This is significantly later than the original date, April 30, 2017 and one would conclude that this is in direct correlation to the delay of the permanent casino’s construction. This request also detailed an alternate deadline for the permanent casino’s completed construction, which would change from August 11, 2017 to February 11, 2018.
IPI announced recently a meeting with its board of directors is slated for the end of this month in order to discuss the approval of its 2016 audited annual results, after posting a net loss in 2015. IPI attributes its 2016 successes to the November 2015 opening of Best Sunshine Live.
Originally IPI plans for the permanent casino and resort had included 350 suites, 200 to 300 gaming tables and 300 to 400 slot machines. There are no reports yet regarding any changes that will be made due to the delay in construction or the recent fire.