The tiny Pacific island of Saipan, capital of the US Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, has never been known as a gambling mecca before, or much of anything for that matter. That is about to change. The isolated territory’s new Best Sunshine Casino, located in a storefront at the end of a duty-free shopping strip, has posted the best casino revenue figures in the world this year. So good, in fact, the figures are off the scale.
Best Sunshine Casino opened its doors for the first time a little less than a year ago with forty tables and big ambitions. In a statement issued at the time the casino said it hoped to make Saipan “the mecca of global travelers with a gnawing hunger for a new brand of entertainment and leisure.”
A tall order it would seem for a destination few global travellers will have heard of, let alone plan to visit, but yet Best Sunshine appears to have accomplished its goal against all the odds.
Despite its small size, the parent company of Best Sunshine, Imperial Pacific (of which so far Best Sunshine is its only casion property) has posted revenues of HK$1.3million (£135,000) per day in 2016. This figure absolutely dwarfs the daily revenue stat for Wynn Macau of just HK$203,000 (£20,800). In fact it is dwarfs the daily revenue figure of all of Macau’s casinos combined. An amazing accomplishment for such a tiny player, and one that is invariably attracting unwanted attention.
Mark Brown, CEO of Imperial Pacific scoffs at any hint of misdoing by his firm. He attributes his firm’s trouncing of Macau heavyweights to under-reporting by casinos in the Chinese gambling capital. “We are very transparent,” he tole Bloomberg recently. “We don’t want to do anything to break the law.”
Brown earned his spurs in the industry by starting as a dealer in Atlantic City working for the recently elected US President Donald Trump. He obviously learned a lot from his mentor to oversee £308 billion of revenues in a first year of a casino’s opening.
Imperial Pacific have grand visions for Saipan, including a string of new Chinese and European themed resorts. And the company is incredibly well connected in Washington beyond Brown’s history in the Trump organisation. Former CIA director James Woolsey joined the board earlier this year, joining senior military judge Eugene Sullivan. Since then Imperial Pacific has also hired a string of well connected advisers, including former FBI director Louis Freeh, former governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, former governor of New York David Paterson, and former governor of Mississippi and Republican National Convention chairman Haley Barbour.
If Imperial Pacific do attract unwanted regulatory interest from their sky-high revenues, at least they’ll have some of the best advice available for a company registered in a US dependency. And in the mean time, with HK$170,000 per VIP table coming in every day, it looks like Imperial Pacific and Saipan’s stock are set to rise for the foreseeable future.