Imperial Palace Asset Auction Begins as Company Fights to Keep License

Posted on: September 30, 2022, 07:01h. 

Last updated on: September 30, 2022, 11:39h.

Imperial Palace International (IPI) is watching as some of the assets of its Imperial Palace casino in Saipan appear at auction. More equipment could still be sold to pay off its mounting debt, even as it fights to keep its license exclusivity.

Imperial Palace casino
The Imperial Palace casino in Saipan sits vacant, with only a van to show that any activity is taking place. The casino’s assets are now at auction after Imperial Pacific International couldn’t cover the costs associated with a variety of lawsuits. (Image: KUAM News)

The Saipan Tribune reports that Angel Playing Cards (APC) has agreed to purchase card shoes and decks IPI planned on using at Imperial Palace.

Heading up the auctions is Clear Management Ltd., which has more equipment ready for bidding. The sales are coming despite IPI continuing to find ways to convince the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) not to rescind its control of Saipan casino gambling.

Angel’s Pennies from Heaven

APC is going to buy back 201 Super Angel Eye playing card dealing shoes that Clear Management has in its inventory auction at a price of $1,500 each. This is the entire complement of electronic card holders IPI had previously purchased from the company.

For this part of the deal, Angel is spending $301,500. It’s a bargain, given that the original price for the same shoe is $4,200. The value would be over $844K if all of the devices are in perfect condition.

Angel will also buy all of its viable APC playing cards IPI had in stock. It’s getting these at a drastically-reduced price, paying just $0.10 per deck.

At one point, IPI had as many as 1,935,360 decks, although many of these may not have survived. The company began purchasing them in 2016. Therefore, it isn’t likely that the company will spend $1.9 million on the cards.

It also isn’t likely to spend that much since the cards are virtually worthless. Clear Management pointed out that they can’t be used on a casino floor and would only be good for training purposes. On the other hand, they might make good collectibles for anyone who wants a piece of Saipan’s gaming history.

Clear Management is now accepting bids for its first auction, which concludes on October 7. It has a number of card shufflers and sorters ready for closed bids. In future auctions, the company will present slot machines, gaming tables, roulette wheels, and more.

IPI Clings to Life

Despite the fact that auctions are underway, with CNMI Chief Court Judge Ramona Manglona’s blessing, IPI is still managing to cling to its casino exclusivity. Six months ago, IPI requested a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) from revoking its license. It did so by arguing that it had found an investor to back its future in Saipan.

Months passed and almost none of the $150 million it promised was coming materialized. As a result, the CCC once again sought to strip the company of its license.

The tables have been flipped once again. IPI recently requested arbitration in its ongoing dispute with the CCC. The company asserts that its failings, which began long before 2019, are the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manglona approved its force majeure right to arbitration this week.

This is just the latest in a continuing line of attempts to avoid removal from Saipan. Manglona already found that IPI waived its rights to arbitration in its dispute with the CNMI last year, which also claimed a force majeure defense. However, each year brings new legal challenges, starting the process all over.

The CCC said recently that IPI will owe more than $100 million in outstanding fees and dues as of October. The company hasn’t paid its license fee for several years, nor has it made mandatory contributions to government funding programs.

That amount is in addition to the millions of dollars it owes to settle lawsuits. It’s also in addition to other lawsuits that are still pending. Despite having no money, a shuttered casino with no equipment, and a track record of negligence, IPI continues to convince the CNMI that it is a reputable, upstanding corporate citizen.

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