Posted on: January 2, 2023, 09:08h. 

Last updated on: January 2, 2023, 04:41h.

Imperial Pacific International (IPI) hasn’t been able to stop a series of auctions from taking place that will help it reduce its outstanding debt. Even as it tries to hang on to its Imperial Palace casino in Saipan, what is emerging is just a skeleton of what was once going to be the greatest independent casino in the region.

Imperial Palace casino in Saipan
The vacant Imperial Palace casino in Saipan during the day. A third asset auction will conclude this Friday, with the proceeds going to pay down the casino operator’s debts. (Image: Passport Party)

The court-ordered receiver of IPI, Clear Management Ltd, has announced that the third of six auctions for the sale of IPI assets will close on January 6. The auction began on December 10 and includes slot machines from Scientific Games (now Light & Wonder) and others, gaming tables, roulette wheels, and more.

At the first auction in October, Clear Management sold IPI gaming hardware worth $410,000. The second sale ended on December 9 as IPI unsuccessfully sought an injunction against it. However, having outstanding debt of well more than $100 million makes it difficult to have bargaining power.

Imperial Palace Continues Losing Weight

IPI still owes more than $100 million to the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) of the Northern Mariana Islands. It hasn’t had the money to pay its license and regulatory fees for several years, blaming its troubles on COVID-19.

In addition, the company owes creditors at least $24 million, some of which has also been outstanding for several years. At the same time, IPI faces new lawsuits as it continues to have difficulty responding appropriately to its financial obligations.

Therefore, the auctions continue. Clear Management is accepting closed bids for this next round, which will see almost all of Imperial Palace’s chip inventory leave Saipan for good. With that, the odds of IPI being able to launch gaming at the casino sometime this year are going to be much longer.

Clear Management’s Tim Shepherd, the company’s senior partner and the director of the auctions, confirmed to that the sales have been very good, even though there have also been a few “tire kickers.” There’s one group that “wants to buy everything.”  But being a closed-bid auction, that interest doesn’t necessarily mean it will win.

IPI may have finally realized that it’s against the ropes in its battle for solvency. Shepherd also confirmed that the company has withdrawn its appeal for the removal of the stay on the receivership, and that IPI’s skeleton crew of executives has been extremely quiet on the subject.

Approaching the Finish Line

This auction will wrap up on Friday at noon, local Saipan time. There will likely be some last-minute bids for Shepherd and Clear Management to sort through. But contact is coming from across the globe.

There will be another auction in March that will offer more slots. Shepherd has acknowledged to before that maintaining the equipment has been challenging because of extended nonuse.

However, he explained that there’s a crew preparing all of the devices in order to make sure they’re in proper working order. It will also get all sold equipment ready for delivery.

In the meantime, IPI continues its silence. Last year, it said it was working on a significant funding deal, but never produced the money. Without the money to cover its outstanding debts and now to buy new equipment, the future looks increasingly dim.