Casino sources have lost billions in withdrawals as high rollers fear a crackdown from Chinese authorities.
Macau.- Macau junkets are witnessing an unprecedented haemorrhage of VIP funds in light of Chinese authorities’ recent crackdown on money laundering and corruption crimes.
The outflow of funds comes as another setback as Macau hopes for a recovery in gaming activity when mainland China resumes issuing Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) permits from today (September 23).
According to Reuters, the trend of VIPs removing funds from Macau junkets and casinos began in July after Beijing identified the cross-border flow of funds for gambling as a national security risk.
The news agency reports that hundreds of customers then began to pull deposits from top junket Suncity through its VIP clubs across Macau, although the operator denies the suggestion.
An anonymous casino executive told Reuters that customers have withdrawn billions of dollars from Macau junkets since July.
He said: “We have cash in the bank but with everyone withdrawing, it’s a problem.”
Most Macau casinos have ample reserves to ride out several months with diminished operations due to the pandemic, but analysts warn that withdrawal of funds suggests a severe loss of confidence in the VIP market, which represents about half of overall gambling revenues (US$36.5 billion last year).
Junket agents have also begun taking back deposits from casinos, and Casinos have reacted by limiting the amount of cash chips that can be withdrawn to HK$1 million (US$129,039). Some months ago the limit was HK$5 million.
In some casinos, only account holders can make withdrawals and any transaction over HK$200,000 is now flagged. This has led to people making multiple separate withdrawals.
Some cash machines and exchange desks in Macau have had limited or no availability for brief periods in recent weeks.
Some Suncity customers who were not able to gain access to their funds have started an online group called “Suncity victims’” and plan to protest at VIP rooms across Macau today (September 23).