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Moody's sees rising risk island casino operator may default

Rating service warns of uncollected debts among Saipan gamblers

HONG KONG -- The Hong Kong company with a legal monopoly on casino gambling on the Pacific island of Saipan is at "very high" risk of defaulting on its debts, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Moody's cut its rating on Imperial Pacific International Holdings late Thursday by one notch to "Caa1" and said it still had a negative outlook on the company, indicating it sees a significance chance of another downgrade in the medium term. Moody's had previously trimmed its rating on Imperial Pacific by a notch in January. Stock investors showed mild concern, pushing Imperial Pacific's shares down 1.5% to 13.5 Hong Kong cents on Friday.

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