Suncity CEO doesn’t expect Macau gaming laws changes to drive out junkets

Macau's consultation on gaming law opened on September 15.
Macau's consultation on gaming law opened on September 15.

Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, CEO of Suncity, has said he doesn’t believe changes to the current city’s gaming laws are intended to end junket operations in the city.

Macau.- Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, CEO of Suncity, says he has no fears for now about the proposed changes to Macau’s gaming laws, which aim to strengthen screening of the “suitability” of junkets and impose criminal penalties for the already illegal practice of taking cash deposits from for any purpose other than casino gambling.

Cheok Wa said in an interview to the Hong Kong Economic Journal: “It is not to completely bar the patrons’ capital from coming here: if the patrons don’t pay us, how are we to purchase gaming chips on their behalf?”

He added: “The government is not aiming to trivialise or drive out the junket sector, but to regulate the sector so that it would not hurt Macau’s reputation.”

The public consultation on the revision of the city’s gaming law was launched on September 15 and will run until October 29. Authorities expect to finish the amendment of the gaming law by the final quarter this year before presenting a draft bill to the Legislative Assembly. 

Macau’s current casino licences are due to expire in June 2022. However, the city’s gaming laws state that licences can be extended for up to five years from the original 20-year term. Authorities say Macau’s gaming law should be reviewed before a fresh public tender process.

In recent years, Macau has seen a number of high-profile cases involving the theft of large amounts of cash deposited by private investors in casinos.  According to reports, such incidents usually involve people connected to VIP intermediaries.

A week ago, Police in Macau arrested an employee of a VIP casino venue on suspicion of stealing nearly MOP95.5m (US$11.9m) from more than 70 customers.

According to officers, the woman promised to give customers a 1.1 per cent daily interest rate on the funds. However, two of her victims complained that they were unable to withdraw their deposits worth MOP9m. 

Reaction to Macau gaming laws changes exaggerated, analysts say

A group of experts and analysts consulted by Macau News Agency believe the market reaction to possible changes to Macau’s gaming laws was excessive.

Macau possible changes to gaming laws caused casino operators stocks to fall sharply this week. Sands China saw a 32.51 per cent drop in its shares while Wynn Resorts’ share price declined by 10.85 per cent.

Carlos Siu Lam, Macao Polytechnic Institute gaming industry researcher, said that the level of investor pessimism was excessive, adding that the situation has improved when compared to the last year when the Covid-19 pandemic started.

He said the gaming law proposals were not surprising, saying: “the money laundering regulations, the new structure of Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) in mid-June. With the appointment of new chiefs, DICJ is better prepared for the future.”

Alidad Tash, managing director at 2nt8 Limited, also said the proposed changes were no surprise. However, he admitted the lack of clarity around the government’s intentions had brought uncertainty.

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