Imperial Pacific Temporarily Shuts Casino Amidst Island Tourism Slump

Imperial Pacific International will be temporarily shutting down its casino operations on Saipan “until further notice,” with the operator blaming a slump in tourism and damage caused by Super Typhoon Yutu.

Super Typhoon Yutu, known as Typhoon Rosita in the Philippines, was an extremely powerful tropical cyclone, rampaging the islands of Tinian, Saipan, and the Northern Mariana Islands in late October.

Imperial Pacific has been marketing its Saipan resort in Japan to woo more tourists. The multi-billion dollar project has faced numerous problems and recently won a three-year extension to complete the hotel portion of the project. Only the casino and some food and beverage facilities have so far been opened.

“This just shows how fragile our economy and the tourism industry is — one event like Super Typhoon Yutu can affect our future,” commented Governor Ralph D. L. G. Torres.

In a statement on Thursday, Imperial Pacific said it is hoping the tourism industry “rebounds immediately… so the company can resume normal casino operations.”

“Super Typhoon Yutu left a trail of destruction on Saipan and Tinian,” said the company on Thursday. “The natural disaster has been heart-wrenching because the storm left our beautiful islands looking like a war zone. The island-wide destruction affected personal property, our infrastructure, and the business community. Like so many others, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC was included in this trail of destruction.”

“Imperial Pacific also suffered millions of dollars in unexpected damage, forcing the company to make adjustments to ensure typhoon cleanup and repairs are done safely so employees and development continue to be protected.”

For the last two weeks, Imperial Pacific has been operating with limited casino operation hours, with essential employees working limited operation hour shifts and non-essential employees allowed to take paid time off, or to voluntarily participate in the company-initiated Community Service Program with stipend allocation, to help in the community’s recovery efforts.

Imperial Pacific said that in order to make the necessary post-typhoon repairs, it did not want to continue to keep the casino open and has decided to temporarily shut down casino operations effective Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, until further notice. (AGB)