Macau junket operator Suncity Group has indicated in a reply to GGRAsia that its Macau VIP gaming business has not been affected by news reports alleging the brand’s involvement in an online gaming platform for play outside the city.
A Monday note from brokerage Nomura had suggested the saga had led to “market share shifts among junkets”, and some “withdrawing” of capital. The note did not specify if it was referring to third-party investor withdrawal of capital from junkets, or junkets voluntarily reducing their capital exposure in the gaming market.
The privately-held Suncity Group sent us an email on Tuesday in response to our enquiry on the topic. It did not directly address the issue of possible market share shift or capital withdrawal.
When GGRAsia asked Suncity Group if it could confirm whether – as hinted at in Nomura’s note – the junket brand’s Macau VIP gaming market share had changed following the allegations by mainland Chinese media, the group told us: “After responding to the [earlier] incident [via the] July 13 press conference, the company has stopped overseas telebetting as promised. Other businesses have been operating as usual and have not been affected.”
Suncity Group had consistently been identified for several years in commentary by analysts as the share leader for Macau VIP business.
The email referred to a recent press conference at which Suncity Group boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa had apologised to the Macau government for any “inconvenience” caused by the online betting allegations.
Proxy betting – referring to betting via telephone by people not physically present in a casino – was banned by the Macau government in 2016, and has since become popular in the Philippine casino market, according to a note issued by Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC last week. Both Goldman Sachs and Chinese investment bank China International Capital Corp (CICC) have remarked that the VIP gaming earnings of casinos on the Philippines could suffer if proxy betting were no longer pursued in that market.
Suncity Group runs 18 VIP gaming clubs in Macau. The tally includes the firm’s recently- launched club at Rio Hotel (pictured) on Macau peninsula.
Outside Macau, the group runs 14 high-roller gambling clubs, namely in the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea and Australia. In addition to these operations, Suncity Group also owns two Poker King Clubs – one in Macau and another in Manila, in the Philippines.
Privately-held Suncity Group is led by Mr Chau, who also chairs the Hong Kong-listed entity Suncity Group Holdings Ltd.
The latter firm that does not list on its balance sheet any of the Macau junket-related businesses, but is an investor in a large-scale casino resort complex in Hoi An, Vietnam, where it says it has a deal to manage gaming. The listed entity has stated it also has a deal to manage the gaming at a casino resort in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
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”They want us to invest as well. The government there wants to see growth in Macau. We are not that concerned about that issue [licence renewal] at all”
Chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands