New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd says it “is closely monitoring recent events” concerning the detention in mainland China of employees from rival Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd.
The casino operator stated: “Financial impact of this situation remains highly uncertain, but is likely to be adverse over the short-to-medium term.”
It added: “Our continued focus on direct VIP customer relationships and conservative approach to credit are expected to mitigate adverse impacts from the Crown Resorts situation.”
SkyCity’s comments were included in a business update published on Friday. The firm operates casinos in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown, in New Zealand. It also has gaming operations in Australia, namely in Adelaide and Darwin.
In January, the firm announced it was revamping Adelaide Casino, to “attract a greater share of high-value international visitors, particularly from China and Southeast Asia.”
Several investment analysts had said in notes issued on Monday that the detentions were in cities across mainland China, and were connected to marketing activities – for the recruitment by Crown Resorts in mainland China – of high-value players. The company has not commented on the work of the people detained.
In its business update, SkyCity stated it neither had offices in mainland China nor employees based there. But SkyCity confirmed it engaged “independent contractors in China who help manage customer relationships from time-to-time.”
News of the reported detentions of 18 people described as Crown Resorts employees – in connection with what mainland Chinese authorities called “gambling crimes” – broke over the weekend.
Several investment analysts have said in notes issued this week that the detentions might have a negative impact on agents that scout in mainland China on behalf of overseas casinos for high value gambling customers.
“SkyCity is confident that its contractors comply with all relevant laws and regulations in China,” the casino operator stated. It added that none of its contractors had so far been questioned or detained as part of the investigation involving the Crown Resorts’ employees.
Crown Resorts chairman Robert Rankin, said in a Thursday statement that as of that moment, there were “no formal charges” laid against the Crown Resorts employees detained in mainland China.
Mr Rankin further noted: “Given the current lack of information available, it is not possible for anyone to be able to provide any informed commentary on these detentions. Likewise, any assessment at this time as to any material impact on our business is both premature and speculative.”
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Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings