Best Sunshine Live opens


Best Sunshine CEO Mark Brown, center, is joined by Saipan Mayor David Apatang, Senate President Victor Hocog, Commonwealth Casino Commission executive director Ed Deleon Guerrero, and other CNMI government officials in cutting the ribbons to the casino. (Dennis B. Chan)

The ribbons have been cut for the first ever casino on Saipan.

Called “Best Sunshine Live,” the casino inside the T Galleria shopping mall held its grand opening last Friday night, welcoming government officials and business leaders with Chinese lion dances and Refaulawasch performers, plus overflowing drinks and appetizers.

The casino has been open since July, but only held its official grand opening last Friday. Dubbed a live-gaming training facility, the 45-gaming table casino is seen as Best Sunshine’s first step toward a projected $7-billion integrated resort project on Saipan, and will train the employees for another project in Garapan—the $500-million Grand Mariana Casino and Hotel Resort—which is now undergoing construction.

Government officials during the ceremony lauded the casino and asked for community support.

In his remarks, Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang—who cut the ribbons with Best Sunshine chief executive officer Mark Brown—thanked Imperial Pacific CNMI (LLC) and its companies for its contributions immediately after Typhoon Soudelor wrecked the island in August.

“Imperial Pacific [stepped] up to the plate to…ease the burden,” he said.

Commonwealth Casino Commission chair Juan Sablan, part of the new industry’s regulators, noted the millions and millions of dollars Best Sunshine has contributed to the Retirement Fund as part of the mandates that established them as Saipan’s exclusive casino licensee.

He said over 3,000 retirees are benefiting and enjoying 100 percent benefits from the Fund.

He also assured that the commission is watching the casino 24 hours a day and witnessing daily money collections, among other activities.

“Please give this industry a chance,” he said.

Edward Deleon Guerrero, the commission’s executive director, said the 45 gaming tables and 106 slot machines at the casino have all been tested, certified, and audited.

He also noted the 10-year background checks that they have conducted for key casino employees.

“We are the policemen of the industry, but we also want to be a part of its growth,” he said.

In his remarks, Brown said that Friday night was about “giving thanks to everyone.” He thanked the Best Sunshine team for working around the clock since the casino’s July 26 soft opening.

He told reporters that the casino opened on Friday fully staffed.

Noting recent controversy in news articles, Brown said, “We have people that love us, people that don’t,” but the opening night was about giving thanks.

He said construction is going well for their other project in Garapan, slated for completion by late next year.

Brown noted that the grand opening for that project would be in a 500-seat grand ballroom stage with “stars coming in from everywhere.”

Rep. Rafael Demapan—the lawmaker who authored Public Law 18-56 that ushered in the casino industry on Saipan last year—asked for the public’s continued support for the industry to make sure they fulfill the mandates established by law.

Demapan, who also authored House Bill 19-95, which amended the casino law to, among others, fund casino regulators with casino license fees, said his bill would give regulators the needed funding to “ensure an establishment like this is taken care of.”

He asked people for patience as they work to ensure the “added revenues that the CNMI can realize” from the industry.

The projected costs of BSI’s temporary gaming facility in T Galleria in Garapan is between $25 million and $40 million, including costs to renovate, machines, and hiring costs, according to the Commonwealth Casino Commission.

A total of 590 employees have been hired so far, with as high as 700 employees estimated.

For their $500-million casino resort in Garapan, BSI has projects a need for a minimum of 3,500 to 4,000 employees.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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