Macau’s casino junket sector is facing an “odd and unclear” period, says Kwok Chi Chung (pictured in a file photo), president of a local junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters. That follows the shock waves impacting the industry, after the detention in Macau of Alvin Chau Cheok Wa and the shutdown of his junket brand Suncity Group, described previously by investment analysts as the largest VIP operator in the city.
Mr Kwok told local public broadcaster TDM that junket operators had already submitted the required paperwork for renewal of their respective annual licences but were waiting for feedback from the regulator.
“The documents for [licence] renewal were already submitted in August. The government decides the ones that can be renewed,” he said.
Mr Kwok pointed out that even if junkets were able to get their licences renewed for 2022, it was unclear whether casino operators in Macau were still willing to partner with them, following the high-profile downfall of Suncity Group.
“We don’t know how the renewal will be and whether gaming operators want to cooperate with us,” Mr Kwok told TDM. “What will the government do if gaming operators do not want to? We are still waiting for results.”
Following the closure of all Suncity Group VIP rooms in Macau on December 1, it was reported that a number of the city’s casino concessionaires were to cease collaboration with other junket brands. None of Macau’s casino operators have so far publicly confirmed their intentions to end collaboration with junket firms.
Mr Kwok also warned of the potential impact on employment in Macau if the city’s junket sector ceases to exist. He said thousands of workers could be affected if there were widespread closure of junket VIP operations.
Macau-licensed junket operator Sun City Gaming Promotion Co Ltd – the main gaming arm of Suncity Group in Macau – announced to workers in an internal memo on Friday the “immediate termination” of business, following the detention of Mr Chau on suspicion of organising illegal gambling for Chinese customers, including online gambling via the Philippines.
Macau’s junket sector has been shrinking in terms of the number of operators for eight consecutive years. Travel restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, and China’s criminalisation of the organising of “overseas gambling”, have added to headwinds that trouble the city’s junket sector, industry analysts have suggested.
VIP baccarat, which in 2019 represented nearly half of all Macau casino gross gaming revenue, accounted for only 31.8 percent of the city’s casino GGR in the three months to September 30, at MOP5.96 billion (US$744.1 million).
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Gaming revenue grossed by the U.S. commercial land-based gaming industry in 2023, according to data by the American Gaming Association