A new association for Macau’s gaming industry is to be launched on Monday, with a focus on protecting the interests of the gaming industry, the city’s junkets and their investors, and the staff that operate them, say the people behind the association.
A new software application – providing up to date news about the Macau gaming industry and the junket sector in particular – would also be announced at the new association’s launch, it was confirmed to GGRAsia. Users will have to apply for it in writing and be approved first.
The new group is called the Macau Gaming Information Association, also known as MGIA.
It would “positively promote Macau’s gaming industry, as well as promote and maintain the rights of the gaming investors and gaming operators and their staff’s legal rights,” said businessman Tony Tong, vice chairman of the new body, in an online message to GGRAsia.
There is already a body called the Macau Junket Operators Association that has represented the specific interests of the junket segment in talks with the Macau government.
The VIP sector delivered just over half of Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue in 2015. That is a significant decline from the 60 percent plus in some earlier years. Investment analysts have attributed the changing structure of the Macau casino industry to factors including mainland China’s anti-corruption campaign and the country’s slowing economy, which has reduced the ability of some Chinese VIP players to get easy access to cash to pay their gambling credit bills.
Additionally in the past two years the high roller trade has been rocked by a number of thefts of junket funds.
In April 2014, a junket operator called Huang Shan fled with an amount reported to be as much as HKD10 billion (US$1.28 billion).
In September 2015, Macau junket operator Dore Entertainment Co Ltd announced it had been a victim of internal fraud by a former employee. Complaints reported to the Macau police from those presenting themselves as investors in the cage operations of Dore involved claims for at least HKD520 million by the end of October, according to media reports.
In early January the city’s police received a complaint claim by the casino at L’Arc, a casino hotel on Macau peninsula, that VIP room funds totalling HKD99.7 million had been stolen.
The Macau VIP sector is also facing some pressure in relation to regulatory matters.
The new director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), Paulo Martins Chan, said on January 13 that the gaming regulator had not renewed the licences of 35 gaming promoters – also known as junkets – for failing to submit information required under new accounting rules for the sector.
Mr Chan that day also stated that the legal framework of the city’s gaming industry needed to be improved in order to strengthen oversight of the VIP sector.
The number of licensed junket operators in Macau shrank by 23 percent in the 12 months to January. The total fell from 183 in January 2015 to 141 last month, according to a list of licensed operators published by the city’s gaming regulator.
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”China has been strengthening the control over capital flow, and the impact of that has already been reflected [on Macau’s gaming revenue trend]. There should not be any bigger impact from the new… legislation [on the mainland] … on the gaming revenue trend here”
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President of Macau casino operator Sands China