Macau junket and casino investor Amax International Holdings Ltd announced on Wednesday that it had received conditional approval to start gaming operations on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
The Hong Kong-listed company said in a filing that it had “received a letter from the regulator giving in principle approval … [for] the commencement of the operation of the group’s gaming business in the Republic of Vanuatu”.
Amax International had announced in October 2014 that it had completed the purchase of a 60 percent stake in Forenzia Enterprises Ltd, a firm that has access to an interactive gaming licence for Vanuatu, valid for a period of 15 years. The deal was closed for a total consideration of HKD48.1 million (US$6.2 million).
The firm plans to use the licence to operate from Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila live table games videoed and streamed for online players.
“We are excited to receive the regulator’s approval as this will mark a milestone in expanding our gaming business outside of Macau and towards the international market,” said Ng Man Sun, chairman of Amax International, in a separate statement on Wednesday.
He added: “In view of the poor industry sentiment in Macau’s gaming market, as well as the rapid development of the interactive gaming sector in recent years, this new project will provide us with a golden opportunity to diversify our business and thereby broaden our income sources.”
Amax International reported an operating loss of approximately HKD17.7 million in the six months to September 30, 2015, compared to an operating loss of about HKD18.4 million for the prior-year period. The firm is yet to publish its results for fiscal year ended March 31, 2016.
Amax International has said that it expects the gaming business in Vanuatu “to become the main revenue driver for the company in Asia-Pacific”.
Mr Ng said in Wednesday’s statement: “We are confident that by leveraging our extensive experience and expertise in the gaming industry, this new project can significantly and positively contribute to the group and create value for our shareholders.”
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia