Star Entertainment still works with junket operator

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Star Entertainment still works with junket operator

The Star Entertainment Group has told an official government inquiry it still works with controversial junket group Suncity.

World Casino Directory reports that according to a recent report, the Brisbane-headquartered operator’s Chief Casino Officer Greg Hawkins is said to have confirmed the partnership.

The New South Wales government’s inquiry into Crown Resorts’ relationship with junket operators heard that Star Entertainment Group recently closed its private gaming room Suncity had run within its 351-room Sydney property.

Mr Hawkins explained his company took the decision after the junket’s owner, Alvin Chau, was barred by the Department of Home Affairs from entering Australia over suspicions he has links with organised crim figures and may be a member of a notorious Macau group.

Mr Hawkins later divulged his firm had moved Suncity’s VIP gaming lounge to another area of its Sydney casino and tasked its own internal anti-money laundering compliance team to begin investigating the matter to see “if that brought any further information to light”.

The executive told the inquiry his company was in the midst of an “ongoing assessment” regarding this partnership but “has not yet made a final determination concerning the allegations against Chau.”

Junket firms such as Suncity Group assist wealthy Chinese patrons in travelling to overseas casinos so they can gamble using pre-arranged credit.

The report reveals the hearing previously heard how Crown Resorts had barred Suncity from operating its own cash exchange desk in 2018 after discovering $4 million in bills stored within the firm’s private room inside the Crown Melbourne casino.

Macau operators forecast to post $1b quarterly loss

Macau casino operators are expected to post a loss of more than $1 billion collectively in their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for the quarter ending June 30, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Each of the six operators will likely have negative quarterly EBITDA when they start reporting their earnings, according to the survey of eight brokerages.

SJM Holdings and MGM China Holdings are expected to lead the tally of year-on-year declines.

Macau’s casino industry has seen gaming revenues plunge by more than 90 per cent for three straight months starting April, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the closure of borders.

Recovery prospects in the region have been brightened since neighbouring Chinese province Guangdong lifted quarantine requirements for travellers returning from Macau in early July.

China has also resumed issuing its individual visas.

Sanford C Bernstein analyst Vitaly Umansky said: “The initial enthusiasm around border easing is a sign of some pent up demand, but without IVS restart, V-shape recovery is not expected.”

Patrons slowly returning to Macau’s casinos

Macau has been receiving about 2000 tourists a day following the relaxation of its quarantine arrangements for travel to Macau’s neighbouring Chinese mainland province Guangdong, compared to “a few hundred” in the weeks prior, a senior Macau official said on Friday.

Director of Macau Government Tourism Office Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes described the improved daily tally as still “low” relative to the numbers before the pandemic.

She was speaking in an interview with the Chinese-language radio service of the city’s public broadcaster TDM.

The relaxation of quarantine arrangements for travel from Macau to Guangdong came into effect last Wednesday.

Mainlanders had mostly not needed to undergo any form of quarantine to enter Macau, but they had been subject to a 14-day quarantine rule when going back via Guangdong.

Investment analysts said that had acted as a deterrent for people to come to Macau in the first place.

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