The total number of licensed gaming promoters in Macau – either entities or individuals also known as ‘junkets’ – shrank by 5.0 percent over the past 12 months. The fall marks the seventh consecutive year of decline in the number of licensed junkets in the Macau market.
The total fell from 100 in January 2019 to 95 this year, according to the latest updated list of licensed operators published on Thursday by the city’s gaming regulator, the Gaming and Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
Around January each year, the gaming bureau publishes in Macau’s Official Gazette a list with the names of all junkets licensed to operate in the city’s casinos. Back in January 2013 Macau had a total of 235 licensed junkets, according to the data kept on record.
The gaming regulator did not provide in its Thursday announcement an explanation for the decrease in licensed junkets. But the decline follows a market-wide contraction of 18.6 percent in VIP gross gaming revenue at Macau’s casinos in 2019, according to other government data. VIP revenue accounted for 46.2 percent of the overall casino GGR market in 2019, compared to 54.8 percent in full-year 2018.
From 2015 onward the gaming bureau began implementing what it said were stricter operating rules for the junket operators. The city’s government stated in its policy address document for 2019 it would “strengthen supervision of junket operations” and continue to conduct audits on junket activities.
Junket operators play an important role in Macau’s VIP gaming segment. They coordinate the recruitment of high roller players from mainland China and beyond, and crucially make it their business to know how much the players are worth and what they have in assets. They extend credit to those players – in order to circumvent the strict currency flow restrictions between Macau and mainland China – collect on losses, and provide accommodation and other entertainment for the gamblers when in Macau.
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"The casinos have to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The decision [to suspend casino operations] is up to the government. As of now, we don’t have any plan to change the existing regulations"
Lei Wai Nong
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance