Macau junket investor Suncity Group is said to be closing all its VIP rooms in Australia. That is according to a report by Australian media outlet The Age.
According to previous corporate information presented by privately-held Suncity Group, the firm hosts a VIP gaming club in Crown Melbourne, a property run by Crown Resorts Ltd; and another one in the Star Sydney, the latter operated by the Star Entertainment Group Ltd.
The Age quoted Star Entertainment’s management saying it had reached a deal to close down Suncity Group’s fixed high-roller room at the Star Sydney.
The Australian newspaper additionally quoted unnamed sources saying that Suncity Group’s fixed high-roller room at the Crown Resorts casino in Melbourne would also be closing down.
“The fixed room of Suncity will be discontinued here,” Star Entertainment’s chief executive Matt Bekier reportedly told The Age on Friday. “They had a small fixed room. That room is being closed.”
The Australian newspaper added that Mr Bekier would not comment on the extent to which Star Entertainment would continue to maintain business relations with Suncity Group following the closure of the VIP room at the Star Sydney.
On Friday, Star Entertainment said its turnover from foreign high rollers was nearly AUD42.4 billion (US$28.8 billion) for the 12 months to June 30, 30.7 percent less than in the prior-year period. International VIP revenue for the period was down 17.6 percent, to AUD586.0 million, said the company in a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange.
An Australian criminal intelligence body announced in late July a special investigation of gambling junket operators from overseas that partner with local casino operators in that country, looking at whether there are risks such business could be compromised by criminals.
News of the initiative from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) came amid accounts carried in that nation’s media that alleged Australian casino operator Crown Resorts’ business had been used as a conduit for money laundering and Chinese organised crime activities via high-roller gambling.
Macau junket operator Suncity Group had been mentioned in Australian media reports as having a commercial presence in Australia, although reports did not specifically link the brand to any ongoing investigations. But in early August, a report published by The Age claimed that Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa had been banned from entering Australia. The news outlet cited official sources said to have spoken on condition of anonymity.
Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd eventually denied that the firm or its controlling shareholder and chairman Mr Chau were being investigated by authorities in Australia. The firm added that Mr Chau had no plans to visit that country in the next 12 months.
Suncity Group Holdings does not list on its balance sheet any of the Macau junket-related businesses, but is an investor in a large-scale casino resort complex in Hoi An, Vietnam, where it says it has a deal to manage gaming. The listed entity has stated it also has a deal to manage the gaming at a casino resort in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the privately-held Suncity Group announced last week it held a soft opening for a VIP club at the Resorts World Manila casino complex, a property close to Manila International Airport. With the opening of this latest venue, Suncity Group said it was now present in all of the four large scale, private-sector casino resorts in the Philippines’ capital.
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Colin Mansfield and Alex Bumazhny
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