Macau’s government has answered (sort of) the longstanding question of whether the Studio City resort casino currently under construction on the Cotai Strip will actually be allowed to offer gambling. Ever since Melco Crown Entertainment acquired the rights to the project in 2011, the government has been saying there were no “gambling elements” in the Studio City plan they approved in 2008. While few doubted Studio City wouldn’t eventually get the nod, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau director Manual Joaquim das Neves has written a letter revealing that the government had ”granted an authorization in principle” for Studio City having a casino way back in 2006. Macau Business Daily quoted das Neves saying the government would stick to that “previous position” and thus Melco Crown was free to apply “to the competent body” for official authorization.
It’s happy days in Macau as we count down to Chinese New Year. The VIPs have returned, leaving analysts predicting yet another record revenue tally in January. Best of all, the mass market continues to grow, with VIP baccarat’s 69.3% share of the Q4 market representing only the second time in three years that figure has dipped below 70%. Union Gaming Research analysts Grant Govertsen and Felicity Chang issued a note predicting that figure could dip as low as 65% in 2013. Yet overall revenue keeps rising and the government says there’s wiggle room in the table game cap. Happy days, indeed. The Union analysts are predicting Macau’s overall revenue will rise 16% in 2013, with VIPs up 10% and mass market up 30%.
Wan Kuok-Koi aka 14k Triad leader Broken Tooth hasn’t been out of jail two months, but he’s already planning his return to the Macau junket world. Sources have told HK Magazine the snaggle-toothed crime figure is planning to open three VIP gambling rooms in Macau come the lunar new year. The sources didn’t identify which of Macau’s six concessionaires would be fortunate enough to welcome back Mr. Wan, whose family reportedly operates either six or seven VIP rooms at present. Wan has reportedly teamed up with Christine Si Tou Yuk Lin aka Big Sister, said to be an influential figure in the industry. Big Sister is also the Ex-Lover of Ng Man-sun, the boss of junket operator AMAX Holdings who was the subject of a vicious beating with hammers in June 2012 that prompted fears of a return to Macau’s wild west days of the late 1990s.
Two days before Christmas and just weeks after Wan was released from prison after serving nearly 15 years for triad activities, Next Magazine reported he’d been refused entry into Singapore. The slight apparently didn’t go down to well, leaving Wan “angry and shouting in the airport.” Shortly after his release from prison, Wan had made offhand remarks about “going into exile” in some South East Asian country, although his present whereabouts are something of a mystery. Lovers of symbolism will be disappointed by Wan’s reported schedule for opening these new VIP rooms early in the Year of the Snake. Snakes have fangs, not teeth. Broken Fang?