Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ – has told GGRAsia it has been unsuccessfully trying to contact junket firm Jimei Group’s founder Jack Lam Yin Lok (pictured), following news reports that Mr Lam is wanted in the Philippines for alleged bribery and economic sabotage.
Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said last week that the arrest order for Mr Lam – directly issued by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte – was based on charges of economic sabotage for allegedly running illegal online casino operations in Fontana Casino at the Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks at Clark.
Mr Aguirre had previously said Mr Lam also had reportedly attempted to bribe him and also officials from the country’s gaming regulator. But Mr Aguirre later stated he would not pursue any legal action against Mr Lam, admitting it was hard to prove any wrongdoing from the gaming entrepreneur.
As of Friday afternoon, there was no public information of formal charges having been filed against Mr Lam. According to media reports, Mr Lam left the Philippines on November 29. His whereabouts are currently unknown.
“The DICJ always pays close attention to.. junket promoter behaviour in Macau and overseas… the DICJ has immediately contacted Mr Lam right after the news [on his arrest order] was released,” the Macau casino regulator told GGRAsia in an emailed reply on Friday.
“However, Mr Lam was unreachable but we were able to contact his representing lawyer who expressed that he was also unable to reach Mr Lam at the moment,” the casino regulator stated.
The bureau added it would continue trying to contact Mr Lam to obtain a detailed explanation of the incident in the Philippines. The Macau casino regulator added it would “keep on monitoring” new developments regarding this case.
Jimei Group’s website lists the Fontana Casino at the Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks at Clark, and Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Casino in Laoag City, as its Philippine operations. In Macau, Jimei is reportedly involved in junket operations at the City of Dreams casino, according to the firm’s website. The group also says it runs Jimei Casino next door to the Grand Lapa hotel on Macau peninsula under an SJM Holdings Ltd gaming licence.
On Thursday, Philippine President Mr Duterte told reporters that he was willing to allow Mr Lam to do business in the country on the condition that the gaming entrepreneur pay higher taxes than stated in his current contract.
“Because he [Mr Lam] has offered to come back… I said, on the condition that he lets go of [the] original contract that lets him to enjoy only one percent. It should be uniform to all. Just pay taxes, don’t bribe anybody,” Mr Duterte was cited as saying, as reported by the Philippine Star newspaper.
The Philippine President reportedly added, in an apparent reference to taxation on gross gaming revenue: “He only pays one percent, but the rest of the guys there are paying 10 percent.”
The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) – the casino regulator in the country – has already served a closure order to Fontana casino on December 4, and to the casino at Fort Ilocandia on the following day.
Commenting on Mr Lam’s case on Thursday, a spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said Chinese authorities had “taken note” and would follow up on the matter.
“As far as I know, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines is making verification, ready to provide consular assistance to the involved Chinese citizen within its capacity,” the spokesperson added.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia