Casino junket backer Suncity Group – said by investment analysts to be one of largest organisers of VIP gambling in Macau – is exploring opportunities for investing in casino resort business in Japan, an executive of the junket firm told GGRAsia on the sidelines of the Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo.
“We’ve been studying the Japan market for over a year,” said Andrew Lo Kai Bong (pictured), an executive director and chief investment officer for Suncity Group. Mr Lo is also an executive director of Hong Kong-listed Sun Century Group Ltd, a firm chaired by Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, the chief executive of Suncity Group.
“We can provide [gaming] consultancy services [in Japan]; or that, plus casino management services; or the provision of consultancy services, casino management services plus investment, all together. We have quite a a degree of flexibility there,” said Mr Lo.
He added that his firm is waiting for more details to be announced by the Japanese government regarding the gaming tax rate and any player entry restrictions for casino resorts before deciding what would be its proposed investment in the Japan market.
“But as always, our firm will maintain an asset-light policy… we will keep our ears open, continue our networking and meet more local companies [in Japan],” Mr Lo told us.
Suncity Group aims to continue its international business expansion, its CEO Mr Chau stated during the group’s 10th anniversary celebrations in February.
Suncity Group is involved in the development of a casino resort in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province. The casino property is being promoted by Hoi An South Development Co Ltd, a venture between Suncity Group; Vietnam-based asset management firm VinaCapital Group; and Gold Yield Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.
Mr Lo expressed confidence regarding his firm’s goal of direct involvement in running casino operations in Japan.
“Suncity Group did begin with junket business. But throughout the past 10 years we have not been only focused on junket operations. In Vietnam, as you know, we have our own [casino resort] from the scratch: from the design of the property to the building of it,” Mr Lo remarked.
“Our team has gathered years of experience in understanding the needs of Asian clients… We have a large database of Asian patrons – they are from mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, and these places also happen to be amongst the top regional sources for Japan’s inbound visitors,” he added. “We do have our own selling points.”
Mr Lo, appointed as an executive director of Sun Century Group with effect from March 9, has been involved in development of Suncity Group’s overseas business, according to a Sun Century Group announcement filed to the Hong Kong bourse in March.
In an interview published in March by Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, Mr Chau said it was “possible” Suncity Group’s VIP gaming interests would be injected into Sun Century Group. The latter firm has proposed changing its name to “Suncity Group Holdings Ltd”.
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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