CASINO

Macau’s new gaming regulator won’t renew 35 junket operator licenses

TAGs: junket operators, Macau

macau-junket-operator-renewalMacau’s new casino regulatory chief says 35 junket operators won’t have their licenses renewed after failing to submit accounting data.

On Wednesday, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) chief Paulo Martins Chan told Radio Macau that 35 junkets had failed to submit the required information by the stated deadline.

Plans to increase oversight of the junket business were announced in September and Chan reiterated this goal as one of his top priorities when he assumed the DICJ’s top job on Dec. 1. Chan told Radio Macau that the ultimate goal was to impose stricter benchmarks for determining junket suitability and financial stability, although he offered no timeline for their implementation.

Chan acknowledged that the junket industry “may have some difficulties” adapting to the new rules but said the changes were essential to the DICJ’s goal of “setting up an honest gambling industry.”

The DICJ’s official list of approved junkets stood at 182 as of July 2015, and Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen issued a note saying the 35 delisted junkets “were probably on their way out the door anyway due to weak demand.”

Earlier this week, the head of Macau’s junket industry association estimated the number of VIP rooms operating in Macau had shrunk by nearly one-third in the past six months. Macau’s gaming revenue shrunk by one-third in 2015, with most of the damage felt by the plummeting VIP gaming business.

At the heart of the DICJ’s desire for increased oversight is the rash of internal junket thefts over the past few months. In October, a Dore Entertainment Co Ltd employee stole several hundred million Hong Kong dollars, while last week brought news of the theft of HKD 99.7m from VIP rooms at the SJM Holdings-licensed L’Arc casino.

Chan said the DICJ was continuing to discuss the Dore case with both the junket operator and Wynn Macau, where Dore operates several VIP rooms. Chan said the partners had provided the DICJ with some accounting records that are contributing to the legal investigation currently underway.

Meanwhile, anyone hoping that China would ease up on the corruption crackdown that has scared so many VIPs away from Macau is in for a world of disappointment. This week, Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted President Xi Jinping saying the “firm determination to fight corruption has not changed” and that the fight would continue to “cover all sectors” in a “zero-tolerance” manner.”

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