Tinian casino reopening contingent on new owner license

Tinian Dynasty’s casino operations, which were closed temporarily after Typhoon Soudelor ripped through the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, are likely to remain closed until new investor Tinian Entertainment Co. Ltd. secures a casino license from Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission.

Christopher Bishop, who is a consultant for current owner Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments, told AGB and a local media outlet that any delay in receiving that license will push back the resumption of casino operations and may probably extend the closure.

Bishop said HKE is not interested in reopening the casino.

The Dynasty owner applied for suspension of casino operations due to the impact of the extensive destruction in the wake of Typhoon Soudelor. The TCGCC approved the application effective Aug. 14 through Sept. 4.

“Due to the typhoon—last couple of typhoons—we have had a decrease in business mostly tour packages that come to our property. Because of the conditions in Saipan, a lot of those tours have been cancelled or been reimbursed. It has driven our occupancy down to very low occupancy percentages at the hotel. This has caused us to close the casino temporarily starting on Friday at noon and we put in a request from the TCGCC on Tinian to close for three weeks and they granted that to us,” said Bishop.

What exacerbated the situation for Tinian is the suspension of night time airport operations that further choked tourist arrivals. There are no direct flights to Tinian and tourists fly to Saipan first before taking the less than 10-minute flight across the channel to Tinian.

According to Bishop hotel occupancy rate is 12 percent, but the Dynasty has to be in the 40-50 percent occupancy rate to keep all main sections and the hotel operating.

With the casino shutdown, it is expected that revenues will also dwindle resulting in diminished remittance of gaming taxes to the government.

Meanwhile, the TCGCC stated in a press release that the closure is only temporary. Its executive director, Lucia Blanco-Maratita said that they will hold weekly meetings with Dynasty to talk about updates and reopening issues.

In a separate press release, the TCGCC cited the reason for the temporary closure as “the lack of tourists as a result of the natural disaster brought on by Typhoon Soudelor on Aug 2.

Despite the shutdown, Bishop said employees are being taken care of and that the hotel remains open.

In a statement to AGB and Marianas Variety, Bishop said HKE has granted the casino employees special privileges over other employees, including free rent and meals for the employees and their families.

“We are trying to take care of them. We are not terminating any of them,” he said.

Bishop, a former Mirage and MGM executive, sees silver linings for Dynasty if and when the new casino license holder takes over.

He said TEC will continue to keep the employees and bring in more managers.