Saipan casino out-earns Macau


When a “sandwiched” casino operation here outstrips the combined income of the global casino industry, no wonder the smoke from downstairs billows in stealth fashion signaling there’s fire in paradise, according to a recent piece by the Bloomberg news organization.

Macau’s casino industry analysts can’t figure out how our “sandwiched” operation raked in $13.5 billion. They call it “puzzling success.”

Even I was puzzled by our ability to out-earn casino titans in Macau. As a taxpayer, I want to hold on to my pride that our industry here is really highly profitable beyond belief. In this regard, I have every right to officially seek the assistance of IRS to review if the reported income of $13.5 billion is factual. Never took college calculus but this is a simple math issue needing expert confirmation!

Money: Terrifying in that imperial Capital Hill declares, “It isn’t time to tax BSI!” Consider how much the NMI could reap from the $13.5 billion annual income at 5 percent. It pans out to nothing less than $675 million accruing to the local coffers. Economic strides would be humongous!

Didn’t the Finance secretary announce that BSI paid its taxes to the tune of $36 million? If the Finance secretary were sufficiently equipped with foresight to recommend the imposition of 5 percent tax, it would have meant some $695 million going into the local coffers. It’s called attribution. Or is the purposeful omission to reserve the gravy train for the elites only?

If you will, we can’t even pay for patient gowns at CHC yet eggheads on the hill said “not a good time to tax!” If not now, when? Eh, how about reality check? Natting maaneeee!

Oversight? For discussion purposes, let’s say there’s truth to the $3.9 billion in revenue for the month of September. Are local legislators wary of its financial implications even at 5 percent in monthly gross revenue? Imagine how much we could draw from the $3.9 billion. It would have meant some $195 million accruing to the local treasury, right?

Bloomberg said the “daily reported revenue for each of its VIP tables in the first half of the year, about $170,000, is almost eight times the average of Macau’s largest casinos.” “Its 16 VIP tables alone generate revenue that’s more than half of the receipts from 178 high-stakes tables at Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s flagship casino in the Chinese territory, a 20-story palace with three Michelin-starred restaurants.” No wonder experts and analysts say the profit at this end is “staggering.”

As the Sisyphus refutation struggles for attention, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the market regulator, has twice issued trading warnings over Imperial Pacific stocks this year. No pun, the information came from the HK magazine.

It has “tumbled to an 18-month low as it resumed trading in Hong Kong after the company denied reports that its Best Sunshine gaming operation is being investigated by a U.S. regulator in charge of anti-money laundering efforts, per a recent Bloomberg story.

“The stock fell 7 percent by the close of trading recently to the lowest level since April 29, 2015, giving the company a market value of HK$16.9 billion (US$2.2 billion). It slumped as much as 11 percent earlier.”

Gravy train: Well, the popped balloon that exposed billions of dollars being raked in coincides with the season of giving. Perhaps legislators may decide to start draining the swamp so the NMI secures its fair share! But this could be very troubling for IPI.

Did the money flow occur before Jinpiñg clamp down on corruption? BSI CEO Mark Brown asserted company efforts to ensure the establishment prevents any form of money laundering. Outstanding!

Detention: Meanwhile, Chinese authorities are “pursuing criminal charges against at least three employees of Australian gambling concern Crown Resorts Ltd., including a top executive who oversaw efforts to attract wealthy international high rollers to its casinos,” according to a recent banner story on WSJ Asian edition.

It’s a similar crackdown done against South Koreans who promoted casino in China that the president has ordered stopped. China has seriously clamped down on capital flight that has adversely affected casino and real estate sales in Australia. Would the NMI be next?

The Bloomberg story said the “revenue figures or actual wins by the house are just a ‘fraction’ of total bets.” But it’s “staggering.” It begs the question: what’s the total bets?

“In September, Imperial Pacific reported a record $3.9 billion in bets at its casino—meaning the 100 or so high rollers who it says come through its doors monthly each wagered an average of $39 million,” the article said.

The huge sums of money washing up on our shores must have attracted federal ocular review denied by BSI. Is the sniffing still ongoing?

Separately, an investigation team from the People’s Republic of China is rumored to have been here too. It could be connected to President Jinping’s crackdown on illegal “capital flight.” He killed junket tours and VIP services recently in Macau and Australia.

There’s trouble ahead when the U.S. General Accounting Office, an investigative arm of Congress, pries open excuses we’ve hurled against implementing the federal minimum wage. With reported economic improvement coupled by $13.5 billion we refuse to tax, how would Washington react to our indecisions drowning in mañana? Would the U.S, continue generously subsidizing CIP, welfare and other programs with grant funds in the islands while mired in allegations of corruption metastasizing on all corners? It’s bad tidings all the way around, right?

China’s heavy clampdown on capital flight and Japan likely to approve its own casino by the 14th of this month, it seems the wall to suffocate the industry here is consistently erected or built to ensure its eventual demise.

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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