Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group Ltd says it is “closely” monitoring developments concerning the detention in mainland China of employees from market rival Crown Resorts Ltd. But chairman John O’Neill stated on Friday that Star Entertainment complies with rules in mainland China regarding the promotion there of gaming activities in other places.
“These are early days in terms of the situation in China,” Mr O’Neill said in an address at the firm’s annual general meeting. That was a reference to the detention in mainland China of several people described as Crown Resorts employees and representatives. Some investment analysts linked the detentions with Crown Resorts recruiting high-value players from mainland China in order to take them gambling in that group’s Australian casinos.
“We will continue to monitor developments closely, while working with staff and Asian-based external agents to understand the situation more fully as it unfolds,” Star Entertainment’s Mr O’Neill added. “We have no information as to why or for how long those Crown Resorts employees, and others, will be detained,” he said.
The executive assured shareholders that Star Entertainment worked “within parameters as determined by the Chinese authorities, in the same way we comply with rules and regulations in every other market in which we operate.”
He also stated that Star Entertainment had no offices in mainland China, and that no company staff had been detained or questioned by Chinese authorities in connection with the Crown Resorts case.
VIP business at Star Entertainment delivers “less than 30 percent of the group’s gross gaming revenue,” Mr O’Neill said. “Around 80 percent of this revenue is derived from junkets out of Asia.”
The company’s chief executive, Matt Bekier, said during Friday’s annual general meeting that the case involving Crown Resorts in mainland China “has, understandably, created some uncertainty, and potential impact on revenue is not clear at this point given the limited information available.” Mr Bekier reportedly cancelled a trip to Macau – a Chinese special administrative region – following the news on the Crown Resorts detentions in mainland China. According to a news piece by Reuters, he reportedly chose to stay in Australia to meet investors concerned about the impact of the affair on Star Entertainment.
New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd stated last week that the financial impact on the industry regarding the Crown Resorts arrests remained “highly uncertain”, but was “likely to be adverse over the short-to-medium term”. SkyCity Entertainment also runs gaming operations in Australia.
Earlier this month, The Star Entertainment was formally granted a casino licence for Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, in Queensland’s state capital, Australia. The firm owns and operates The Star Sydney casino hotel, Jupiters Gold Coast and the Treasury casino in Brisbane.
The casino operator signed in November last year a junket arrangement with Hong Kong-listed junket investor Jimei International Entertainment Group Ltd.
News of the reported detentions of 18 people described as Crown Resorts employees – in connection with what mainland Chinese authorities called “gambling crimes” – broke on October 15. There have since been unconfirmed reports of additional arrests.
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