Northern Marianas hotel closure raises questions

8:54 am on 7 September 2015

The motives behind the closure of a major hotel and casino on the Northern Marianas island of Tinian have been questioned as the island prepares to take a massive economic hit.

The Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino will close this month, with its owners, Hong Kong Entertainment, saying a lack of guests and cash flow after Typhoon Soudelor has made it unviable.

Our correspondent in the Northern Marianas, Mark Rabago, says the closure is expected to have a massive impact on an economy that is dependent on the hotel.

He says the island of 3,500 doesn't have anywhere else that can employ the more than 600 people who will be laid off, and they are likely to leave Tinian.

However, he says some people, including lawmakers, are questioning whether the complex had to close, suggesting it could be a bluff by the owners to get government concessions.

"You don't invest millions of dollars and just don't have a plan B if a typhoon strikes this hard, especially if it hasn't really affected your infrastructure. So I think it's a bit of game play in regards to Tinian dynasty so it could have its licence approved immediately. I have talked to say people and they say it's probably a bluff from their side."

Casino revenues have also been providing funding for 43 positions within the Tinian Casino Gaming Control Commission, the mayor's office, and at the Tinian Municipal Council and jobs could be lost as a result of the closure.

Dynasty casino, Tinian, CNMI.

Dynasty casino, Tinian, CNMI. Photo: RNZ / Mark Rabago