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Macau holding junket operators to account

Thu, Jul 18, 6:41pm by Staff Writer

Macau is putting its junket operators under tighter regulatory scrutiny following Suncity Group’s week to forget, but have so far found no major infractions.

Calvin Ayre is reporting that on Tuesday, Paulo Martins Chan, head of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Policy bureau told local Portuguese-language TV channel TDM-Macau that the DICJ had conducted snap inspections of 25 VIP gaming rooms in seven Macau casinos on July 10 but failed to detect any signs of illegal activity.

Chan later told GGR Asia that the VIP rooms targeted for these spot checks included some run by the Suncity Group junket, which reportedly controls more than 40 per cent of Macau’s VIP market.

Chan told TDM that neither Suncity nor its chairman Alvin Chau were currently under investigation by authorities in either Macau or mainland China.

The July 10 inspectors came one day after a Chinese state-run newspaper accused Suncity of being among the biggest operators of China-facing online gambling sites.

With the exception of the official lotteries, all gambling is strictly prohibited on the mainland.

Suncity issued a denial of the claims made in the report, but the DICJ summoned representatives of Macau’s junket and casino operators to remind them of the illegality of online gambling within Macau.

Suncity’s Chau staged a press conference last Saturday to repeat his company’s denials of illegal activity, while pledging that it would now conduct all its global operations based on what was and wasn’t legal in Macau.

Suncity operates VIP rooms in other Asia-Pacific casino markets, including the Philippines, which at one point was said to derive half its gaming revenue from proxy betting, in which a customer on the Chinese mainland can wager through a proxy seated at the gaming table who relays real-time card information by phone or video feed.

Macau formally prohibited proxy betting in its VIP rooms way back in 2016, although stamping out the activity completely proved tougher than simply issuing the order.

The use of live streaming via social media such as WeChat has become common among illegal proxy betting operations.

Junkets are under pressure at the moment as Macau’s fabled VIP gambling market continues to shrink. This week, the DICJ revealed that VIP gambling revenue declined nearly 16% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, making the second consecutive quarter in which mass market gaming has claimed a larger slice of the market than VIP.

Macau no threat to Japan – Consul General

Japan’s Consul-General in Macau, Mitsuhiro Wada, says he doesn’t expect Macau and Japan to be in direct competition for customers once his home nation opens its first integrated resorts in coming years.

Asgam is reporting that the ambassador insists Japan can still learn from Macau’s accomplishments in running the biggest casino industry in the world.

Speaking at the launch of a new Japan Pavilion at Macau’s Tap Seac Gallery, Wada told the Macau Post Daily, “Japan is going to start the business of integrated resorts. Macau is very experience in this field and Japan should learn from Macau’s experience.”

However, he added that Japan “cannot follow Macau’s model” due to significant differences in customer demographics.

“We will create our business in a Japanese way which could be very different from Macau’s integrated resort business,” he said.

“In Macau, most of the customers are coming from the mainland and Hong Kong, but in Japan’s case, the majority of the guests will be Japanese. We also welcome tourists from all over the world, but the main customers would be Japanese people, so I don’t think there will be much competition between Macau and Japan.”

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