Macau’s latest internal theft scandal involves ‘Broken Tooth’ Koi’s VIP room

broken-tooth-l'arc-casino-theftThe L’Arc Macau casino has been rocked by another VIP room internal theft, the second such case at the property in as many months.

On Thursday, Hong Kong media outlet Economic Journal reported that Macau Judiciary Police had received a report regarding the internal theft of around HKD 1m (US $129k) from a VIP room at L’Arc casino, which operates under an SJM Holdings license.

The amount of the theft pales in comparison to the HKD 100m that went missing from a junket operation working out of L’Arc early in January. Regardless, news of the theft will likely put more strain on junkets’ ability to attract investor capital, and calls for stricter regulatory oversight of the junket industry will grow louder.

This most recent case is all the more notable given that the theft reportedly occurred at a VIP room controlled by Wan Kuok Koi (pictured) aka Broken Tooth, the former leader of the notorious 14k Triad. Wan was released from prison in December 2012 after serving a 14-year sentence for illegal gambling, loansharking and criminal association.

Almost immediately after his release, Wan announced his intention to resume his activities in Macau’s junket business. Last summer, it was reported that Wan had opened a new VIP room in an unidentified casino. On Thursday, Economic Journal reported that Wan controlled the Guoying VIP Club, which opened at L’Arc last May.

Wan’s VIP room featured what Economic Journal called a “profit-sharing area,” i.e. gaming tables that the operator shares with other junkets to ensure the tables are kept humming. Profits and losses at these tables are shared between the partners at a fixed ratio. The manager allegedly behind the theft was responsible for overseeing these shared tables.

The past year has seen a dramatic uptick in such internal thefts but a gaming industry insider told Macau Business Daily that the only thing that had changed was the junket industry’s willingness to publicize the incidents. With the VIP gaming business in the toilet and money tight, junkets “now make everything high profile when it hurts their costs.”