Macau’s casino regulator has told GGRAsia that on July 10 it conducted “inspection” work at seven of the city’s casinos where junket operations – including those of Suncity Group – were being pursued, and found “no irregular activities”.
The information was part of an emailed reply in response to questions from us asking whether the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – a body also known by its Portuguese-language acronym DICJ – had launched a formal investigation into the Macau junket brand Suncity Group or any other Macau junket – regarding mainland Chinese media claims the Suncity brand had been involved in “online gaming”.
The gaming bureau reiterated in its reply to us that it had held a meeting on July 9 with Suncity representatives and pointed out to them it would deal “seriously” with any violation of Macau law or the law of other jurisdictions where a Macau gaming promoter – as government-licensed VIP play middlemen are known locally – operated junket business. Any infractions could affect the “suitability of the respective junket promoter,” added the gaming bureau in its response to us, referring to the regulatory good standing of a licensed promoter.
Regarding the recent junket room spot checks, the regulator told us: “In the evening of July 10, the DICJ sent out a designated team to conduct inspection on seven casinos covering 25 locations where junket promoters conduct their operations (which included Suncity) to check if there was any illegal operation and the result was that no irregular activities were noted”.
Lionel Leong Vai Tac, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, and who also has an oversight role for the city’s casino sector, was asked by Macau media on Wednesday morning about the Suncity situation.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event in the Chinese mainland province Jiangsu, Mr Leong didn’t mention Suncity by name, but was indirectly cited as saying Macau’s gaming bureau had been closely following up events, and had received a pledge from the entity concerned that it would abide by Macau laws in relation to its business, which the Macau government was – in Mr Leong’s own words – “pleased to see”.
The Secretary was also cited as saying the Macau government was resolute in strictly monitoring the gaming industry in Macau, and that this was a positive for the city.
The boss of the Suncity brand, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, had read out a prepared statement during a Saturday press conference in Macau, in which he issued an apology to the Macau government for what he termed the “inconvenience” of the adverse publicity in state-backed Chinese media regarding the online gaming allegations.
The gaming bureau said in its reply to us: “On July 13, Suncity mentioned in its press conference that going forward, Suncity will apply the legal standard of Macau for its gaming operation even in other gaming jurisdiction.”
Paulo Martins Chan, director of the gaming regulator, had reiterated in a meeting on July 10 with Macau’s six casino operators that online gaming within Macau was illegal.
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Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts