Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd and local VIP gambling investor firm David Group appear to be giving different messages regarding the role that the latter is playing in gaming operations at the new Macau Roosevelt Hotel.
A David Group Chinese-language WeChat account, seen by GGRAsia last week, suggested the firm was to run all of the gaming at the property. Such assertions were also made by a David Group staff member that GGRAsia spoke to by telephone at that time.
Such an arrangement – whereby one of Macau’s six gaming operators allows its licence to be used by a third party – is normally known as a “service agreement” and is subject to review by the local regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
But on the sidelines of Wednesday’s official opening for the property, Ambrose So Shu Fai, chief executive of SJM Holdings – the firm that supplies the gaming licence for Macau Roosevelt – told us David Group was in fact in charge of providing only marketing services and introducing gaming patrons to the gaming venue, under what he termed a “commercial agreement”.
The casino began operation on June 29, according to the local regulator. The new casino hosts a total of 30 gaming tables.
“We don’t have a service agreement [with David Group]. As we relocate our gaming venue to here, they are running as a VIP gaming operator,” Mr So told GGRAsia.
The new venue is effectively a “relocation” of Casino Macau Jockey Club – a venue that used to operate nearby but is now closed – according to previous comments from the gaming bureau.
“As we moved our gaming venue to here [Macau Roosevelt Hotel], we have them [David Group] to help introduce patrons, using a format that is like a service agreement,” said the SJM Holdings CEO.
“Under a commercial agreement with David Group, we’ve asked them to handle the marketing business,” he added.
A gaming bureau spokesperson told us by telephone on Thursday that it had not received any application by SJM Holdings seeking to have a service agreement at the new venue. The person said such application would be required even in the case of a casino “relocation”, on the basis that every time a new third party was introduced to a casino venue, the gaming bureau needed to review the matter.
The former Casino Jockey Club was run – under SJM Holdings’ licence – by gaming equipment group Paradise Entertainment Ltd.
The gaming venue inside Macau Roosevelt Hotel has 90 slot machines, according to staff. Nearly half of the 30 gaming tables are mass gaming tables, and the slot machines at the venue are still being installed and will only be in service starting next month, according to gaming floor staff spoken to by GGRAsia on Wednesday.
All of the 30 gaming tables at the property are for baccarat games, Mr So confirmed on Wednesday, adding this was at the suggestion of David Group.
“They believe that this game is popular among clients,” Mr So said. “We are just accommodating their marketing aims.”
The SJM Holdings executive declined to disclose from where the current 30 gaming tables deployed at Macau Roosevelt’s casino had come, but he confirmed that such allocation did not involve any fresh application of gaming tables from the casino 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