Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, says it will continue to monitor city gaming venues where third-party gaming promoters known as junkets have operations, to ensure such activities are “legal”.
The gaming bureau gave the commentary in a statement issued on Friday evening, along with several images of bureau officials at work (one shown above). The regulator, also known by the Portuguese-language acronym DICJ, stated that it had a meeting that day with the city’s Judiciary Police that discussed what it termed trends on “illicit online gaming activities” and gaming-related crimes.
The bureau said it had conducted several “spot checks” on the city’s junket venues this month. The bureau also reiterated that any violations of local laws, or even of regulations in places outside Macau, could potentially affect the suitability of a junket promoter in Macau, understood to be a reference to whether it would be in good standing with the local authorities. Gaming promoters in Macau VIP rooms require a licence from the city’s government in order to operate.
The topic of illegal online gaming has been in the public agenda following reports by Chinese state-backed media, which alleged that Suncity Group brand had been involved in operating an online gaming platform for play outside Macau. Suncity has publicly denied the online gaming allegations, adding that even if certain “products” were “legally allowed to operate in other countries and regions, the company will not adopt them if the laws of Macau do not allow it”.
VIP gaming earnings of casinos on the Philippines could suffer if proxy betting was no longer pursued in that market, suggested Chinese investment bank China International Capital Corp (CICC) in a Friday memo.
“Across gaming jurisdictions in Asia, we believe long-term growth prospects continue for Macau (for sustained mass segment growth) and Cambodia,” stated some of the institution’s analysts.
But CICC analysts Shengyong Goh, Kai Qian, and Liwei Hou added: “We are concerned about the impact on Philippines gaming from the cessation of proxy betting, which could contribute about 30 percent to 40 percent of its VIP gross gaming venue (GGR).”
The CICC team saw what it termed a “restrained” outlook for Macau’s VIP gaming performance in the second half of this year, and expected that a “VIP recovery” might not happen in the period – as some other commentators had predicted prior to the Suncity stories. The institution said its assessment was due to likelihood of the junkets “laying lower” and marketing efforts being “restrained”.
“While signs indicate that VIP rolling volumes could have troughed in second quarter of 2019 (- 18 percent year-on-year versus – 23 percent year-on-year in first quarter of 2019), our restrained outlook on Macau’s second-half 2019 VIP segment,” stemmed from the possibility “junkets or agents could restrain marketing efforts as further regulatory risks remain,” the CICC analysts wrote.
Macau’s VIP baccarat GGR fell 15.6 percent year-on-year in the second quarter to MOP34.6 billion (US$4.30 billion), occupying 47.2 percent of the city’s overall casino GGR in the period.
“Recent alleged overseas proxy betting operations for junkets could lead to possible operational pressure on junkets as overseas operations could be curtailed,” the CICC analysts explained in their commentary. They also suggested there might have been “inflated VIP rolling volumes” in the second quarter from “mega single patrons” in May and June this year.
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”There are likely to be cancellations of some Chinese New Year casino and junket parties and events [in Macau]”
Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts