Casino operator Wynn Resorts got a rare piece of good news after a Macau court absolved the company of responsibility for a massive internal theft at a Wynn Macau VIP gaming room.
On Monday, the Macau Court of First Instance rule ordered junket operator Dore Entertainment Co Ltd to repay HK$6m (US$764k) to an individual who sought to gamble in the Dore-operated VIP room at the Wynn Macau casino.
In 2015, Dore was the victim of a massive internal theft by Chao Ioc Mei, a casino cage manager who absconded with roughly HK$700m (although initial reports pegged the stolen sum much higher). In 2016, the Macau courts ordered Chao (whose whereabouts remain unknown) to repay $12.9m in funds owed directly to Dore, leaving it up to individual investors and gamblers to pursue legal claims of their own.
Macau Business reported that four individuals had pursued claims against Dore totaling HK$64m but three of these individuals failed to provide the necessary documentation to justify their claims. The fourth individual was able to produce a receipt showing his HK$6m deposit with the cage manager.
Since the deposit contract was made with Dore, the Court ruled that the junket operator was responsible for honoring the debt. Dore will also have to pay court costs as well as interest on the deposit dating back to September 2015, when the claim was filed.
Wynn dodged a bullet after the Court determined that the act of depositing money with the junket cage didn’t automatically qualify as part of a gaming operation, and thus the casino operator was off the hook.
The Dore incident was part of a rash of similar internal thefts at junket operators, which spooked many junket investors into withdrawing their funds. This liquidity drain occurred just as Macau’s VIP market was already reeling from Beijing’s crackdown on corruption, furthering the market’s downward spiral. It also led to Macau regulators imposing stricter oversight of the junket sector.