The Macau government has confirmed to GGRAsia that it has started its previously-announced audit programme of the credit issuance records for the city’s 126 licensed VIP gaming promoters, a group of businesses also known as junket operators. “Over 60” are being assessed in the first tranche of audits, the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told us.
In its emailed reply to our enquiry, the gaming bureau – known by its Portuguese-language acronym DICJ – said the audit work on all licensed junkets – currently 126 in number, according to the bureau – is due to be completed by the end of this year.
The audit was mentioned in the government’s policy address for 2017, as presented in November by the city’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On.
“Temporary deposits” accepted by junket operators would also be looked at by the government as part of the audit work, Mr Chui had noted at the time.
Macau junket operators have commonly raised capital for their casino rolling chip programmes by offering private investors above-market interest rates for their deposits. That capital was then used to extend credit to VIP players mostly coming from mainland China.
Paulo Martins Chan, director of the gaming bureau, in January told the media that Macau had seen a decrease in the number of licensed junkets, partly due to the bureau not renewing the permits of some that failed its inspection of their financial accounts.
At the time, Mr Chan noted the regulator was working to revise the rules concerning the conditions and procedures for licensing junkets. He said that a draft version of the revised rules would be ready this year.
As part of that process, the bureau would consider the question of whether only companies should be permitted to apply for junket licences. Currently, individuals are also allowed to do so.
The bureau would also mull a “considerable increase” in the amount of capital deposit that any newly-registered junket must lodge with authorities, according to Mr Chan’s January comments.
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”Continued negative coverage of the Abe administration, coupled with political losses for the Liberal Democratic Party ... may reduce support for the gaming agenda, which already has only limited public support”
Analyst at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein