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The World’s Next Major Gaming Resort Is In The Middle Of The Pacific Ocean

August 22, 2016 Resort News No Comments Print Print Email Email

Saipan is the westernmost territory of the United States, capital of the Northern Mariana Commonwealth, and the closest U.S. outpost to Japan, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

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Saipan is a unique tropical isle, with spectacular beaches, verdant jungles, and volcanic mountains. Unlike the U.S. mainland, however, Saipan allows some visitors to stay for 45 days without a visa, a factor that has made this Micronesian island paradise a major new destination for increasing numbers of upmarket Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists.

Three years ago, an enterprising Hong Kong-listed company, Imperial Pacific International Holdings, Ltd., secured a license from the Saipan government to build and operate a multi-billion dollar integrated resort and gaming center on the island, with the intent of creating thousands of new jobs for Saipan residents and contributing millions in new tax revenues to build up Saipan’s limited economy.  Imperial Pacific’s plans for Saipan include at least a half dozen major hotel/ casinos, private villas and other resort properties, shopping malls (for duty free shoppers), a huge conference center, world class golf courses designed by Greg Norman, and the world’s largest water park. The company is also investing millions of dollars to upgrade Saipan’s airport and terminal facilities, build docks and marinas for ultra large yachts and cruise ships, and improve access to the island’s offshore coral reefs, which provide perhaps the best diving in the world.

Last November, Mark Brown, Imperial Pacific’s Chief Executive Officer, opened Saipan’s first casino, a training facility with a handful of VIP gaming tables. Brown, whose extensive experience in building and operating major casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Macau, is uniquely qualified to head this major new integrated casino resort development and in less than two months, this training casino alone was generating gaming revenue second only to Macau, the world’s most lucrative gaming center. In early 2016, Brown’s company broke ground for the $550 million Imperial Pacific Resort, a spectacular integrated hotel resort with a casino dominated by 100 foot crystal dragons which opens in early 2017.  “We are expecting fantastic results,” Brown comments, “and are already accepting bookings from China and Japan when this very special facility opens for business in the auspicious Chinese Year of the Chicken.”

Mark Brown began his career in the gaming industry in 1979 and quickly rose to become CEO of a major Atlantic City casino. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited by Donald Trump to serve as CEO of four additional Trump casinos during the golden age of gaming in the U.S. Brown gained additional experience working for the hugely successful Steve Wynn in Las Vegas.  The surge of new wealth created in China and the Far East, however, soon displaced Las Vegas and Atlantic City and Macau, the former Portuguese colony now a part of the Peoples Republic of China, was on its way to becoming the world’s epicenter of the gaming industry.  Brown recognized that the gaming industry was going global and as one of the first to understand its potential, was brought in by gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson, who made him president of Adelson’s LVS properties in Macau.

Despite extraordinary success, however, Macau has now come under increased regulatory and tax supervision by the Chinese government and last year, began the transition from a pure gaming destination to a fully integrated family destination resort.  Meanwhile tourism throughout the region continued to set revenue and traveler records and Mark Brown joined Imperial Pacific to search for the next great gaming/resort destination.

Saipan, once a German and then a Japanese colony, but now a full-fledged U.S. commonwealth territory with easy access, duty free shopping, and no visa requirement for many Asian tourists, seemed ideal but was not only undiscovered, but also undeveloped.  The island’s population had declined from nearly 80,000 twenty years ago to approximately 50,000 in 2015. Saipan’s economy was anemic and despite its relative proximity to both China, Japan, and Korea, the island was far off most tourist maps.  All of that changed when Mark Brown and Imperial Pacific approached Saipan’s governing body and presented a development plan that would turn the island into a world class gaming and integrated resort destination almost overnight.

“Imperial Pacific secured a 40 year exclusive Casino Resort Development License and although we must pay $35 million each year to retain the license, this was quite a bargain,” comments Brown, “since Macau has a 35 percent tax on revenues, but Saipan’s tax rate is only 5 percent, a number which can be reduced even further by rebates and expense deductions.” Mark Brown says Ji Xiaobo, Imperial Pacific’s charismatic young 36 year old leader, has invested heavily in recruiting and training resort and casino operating personnel. Mr. Ji’s family, led by his mother, Cui Lijie, has also made significant contributions to Saipan community projects, including a grant of several million dollars donated to relief and rebuilding of local housing and infrastructure badly damaged by last summer’s Typhoon Soudelor, the most devastating storm to hit the island in nearly 50 years.

Mark Brown contends that “Saipan is truly a unique, natural Pacific jewel that can’t be imitated or equaled by any other destination in the world. Macau may always be the leading player in the global gaming industry, but we are building something very special on Saipan and in the bargain, we are making Saipan not only a world class destination resort, but also one of the very best investment opportunities in the world.”

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