Significantly reduced VIP gaming revenue caused Imperial Pacific International to swing to a loss of HK$1.9 billion (US$239.6 million) in the first six months of 2019, down from a profit of HK$79 million in the prior-year period.
According to the Saipan casino operator, VIP rolling chip volume reached HK$8.3 million in the year, down 91.7 percent from the previous year.
“Business is very slow and junkets at the moment don’t want to come here,” said IPI CEO Mark Brown to commissioners at the Commonwealth Casino Commission on Thursday.
There are currently five junket operators that are licensed by the Saipan gaming regulator. However, IPI told the CCC that only “Big Bang” has been fulfilling its commitment to IPI.
“They are doing a great job and are very responsive to our inquiries. Their taxes are up to date as well,” said IPI senior vice president for compliance Chuck McDonald.
The company has requested the CCC to extend the junket’s license for another two years, as it expires August 31, 2019.
Revenue from mass gaming operations also fell in the half-year period, down 21.0 percent to HK$98 million.
Going forward, IPI said it will continue to review its mass gaming areas to maximize table utilization, to expand or refurbish its gaming areas, and to be innovative with its gaming products and technologies to enhance table productivity and table retention.
On the slot front, which fell 9.1 percent to HK$30 million, IPI said it will aim to re-examine its mix of slot machines and ETG games to maximize casino profitability.
In related news, it has been confirmed that IPI has now paid the remaining $10.5 million which it owed to the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) in license fees.
Earlier this month, the company failed to pay the full annual license fee of $15.5 million, without explanation.
The executive director of the CCC, Edward Deleon Guerrero, reacted by filing a complaint and setting a deadline for the operator by which the payment has to be finalized.
Finance Secretary of the CNMI, David Atalig, has pointed out CCC could still decide to demand a fine for the delay and the lack of explanation.