Resignations. Comebacks. Massive Employment Opportunities.
For the casino industry, particularly in Asia, 2015 was a year of dramatic change. In this end-of-the-year section, we look back on the six most read headlines in the past 12 months.
With no end in sight to Macau’s gaming revenue slump, casino junket operators like SunCity Group are increasingly looking to other Asian gaming jurisdictions, where VIPs can let their high-rolling impulses run wild.
This year, SunCity Group bolstered its presence at Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort & Casino presence and expanded to Melco Crown Entertainment’s recently launched City of Dreams Manila property.
There’s also the telephone or “proxy” betting, which is currently all the rage in Manila casinos. According to Morgan Stanley, the activity could represent “as much as 50 percent of VIP revenue in Manila, versus 5 percent to 10 percent in Macau,” especially since local regulator PAGCOR is supporting proxy betting.
Speaking of Melco Crown Entertainment, the casino operator ramped up its recruitment process back in April with a goal of hiring 5,000 people before the official opening of City of Dreams Manila.
Fast forward to several months later, and we learned the casino operator had to let go of close to 2 percent of its total workforce as part of cost rationalization due to its gaming business not ramping up. This has caught the eye of a local senator, who called for an inquiry on the layoffs, but Melco Crown promised that its employees will return to work as soon as business “picks up.”
Still on the Melco Crown, Philippine unit—Melco Crown Philippines—once again made the headlines after COO Kevin Sim resigned from his position in November due to “personal reasons.” He was replaced by Geoffry P. Andres, who previously worked for Casino Canberra and Sands Macau before joining Melco Crown.
Meanwhile in Macau, the thrill of casinos are wearing off for many Hong Kong gamblers. And this has prompted some enterprising women to provide the city state with a dose of new entertainment—Japanese adult video actresses.
Japanese media outlets reported many starlets are hired by brokers who ferry the girls to Macau and set them up in five-star hotels. There they stay for a 10-day period, during which time the girls are expected to service up to five clients a day. The actresses receive a minimum of ¥500,000 ($4,200) up to ¥2 million, with bonuses if the client asks for a three-way.
In June, casino junket figure Cheung Chi-tai turned himself in to police and was consequently charged with three counts of money laundering in connection with close to HKD1.79 billion ($231 million) deposits made to his Hong Kong bank accounts between 2004 and 2010. Authorities believe Cheung knew the money were “in whole or in part, directly or indirectly” proceeds of an indictable offense.
And finally, we end this list on a good note, courtesy of Singapore’s floating casino.
Business at the Lido casino on the Leisure World cruise ship nose-dived in 2010 after Las Vegas Sands’ Marina Bay Sands and Genting Singapore’s Resorts World Sentosa opened their doors. Now, the country’s lone remaining floating casino is making a comeback, thanks to the rising demand from gamblers looking to avoid the S$100 daily entry levy at the city-state’s land-based casinos.
Leisure World has proven particularly popular among older Singaporeans, who pay just $23 on weekdays for a day trip that includes free buffet meals. Those under 55 years old pay $43. Another appeal is the low minimum bets at the Lido’s 40 gaming tables, with bets starting at $2 rather than the $25 minimums at Singapore’s resorts.