External consultants brought in for casino development project in Saipan

19 April 2018 Consultancy.asia 3 min. read

A government entity has brought in external consultants to assist with development management of the new Saipan Integrated Resorts on the Pacific island of Saipan. The Imperial Pacific Resort is set to be completed by the end of August and will pave the way for the further development of Saipan’s luxury casino industry.

Saipan is part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific under US administration, and is home to a new casino and hotel complex under the banner of Imperial Pacific International (ICI). As part of the implementation monitoring process of the facility, the Office of the Governor has initiated a Development Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC), tasked with ensuring timely implementation and successful development of the Saipan casino industry.

Imperial Pacific won the Casino Resort Development License in August 2014 and has since begun to develop its strategy for Saipan Integrated Resorts, of which the Imperial Palace is the first permanent development. The second stage of the islands resort precinct will include multiple resorts, 20 six-star themed hotels, a 1 kilometre duty-free shopping boulevard featuring top international designer labels and a themed water-park, among others.External consultants brought in for casino development project in SaipanTo support the development of the resort, DPAC's programme team has following a competitive tender selected Pacific Century, a local consulting firm specialsed in project management for large infrastructure projects. The consultancy has in recent years represented various multinational firms such as ABB Energy Ventures, Hydro Capital and Huawei Technologies.

To assist in its activities, Pacific Century has hired Euro-Asia Consultants, a boutique casino and hospitality consultancy. The firm is headed by Stephen Karoul, a prominent figure in the international casino advisory arena who has worked in the casino industry both in the United States as well as across Asia for nearly 40 years. He has a wealth of experience in creating targeted marketing campaigns, casino management strategies and market development, and will work with a team including fellow industry veteran Dean Macomber to advise the Development Plan Advisory Committee.

The casino industry is booming across Asia, and Saipan is primed to become one of the region’s next hotspots. The local industry is beginning to out-shadow Macau as Asia’s casino haven due to its relaxed regulatory environment, tax incentives and relatively inexpensive development licenses. This competitive edge combined with tightened restrictions in Macau by the Chinese Government has dealt the island a royal flush. With a population of under 50,000, the island is now receiving over 500,000 big spending tourists a year.

Whilst the Imperial Palace has been under construction the IPI has been operating out of an off-site facility called Best Sunshine Live. In the past year, the temporary casino and training facility has been generating more profit than Macao’s famous Venetian Casino. With less than a fifth of the casino’s VIP tables, Best Sunshine Live has managed to generate over $30 billion in lost bets from high rollers; $3.5 billion more than Venetian in the same period.

However, a recent Bloomberg investigation contended that the figures are inflated as a result of Chinese money laundering. The Commonwealth Casino Commission’s Executive Director Edward Deleon Guerrero responded to the Bloomberg claims earlier this year, stating his belief that due to a comparably high level of tax in places like Macau on gross gambling revenue (25% as opposed to 5%), that income is being under reported elsewhere as a result.