Privately-held casino junket brand Suncity Group said in an email to GGRAsia that the group “still maintain a very close relationship with Crown and The Star” despite Suncity Group’s decision to close both its VIP rooms in Australia.
In the same email, the firm confirmed it had “discontinued” VIP gambling rooms at Crown Melbourne and The Star Sydney, in Australia, due to “lack of demand and high operation costs”. The email did not specify what had led to the lack of demand.
The message described the move as a “commercial decision.”
Crown Melbourne, in Melbourne, Victoria, is run by Australia-listed Crown Resorts Ltd, a firm part-owned by Nasdaq-listed Asian casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd. The Star Sydney, in New South Wales, is run by Australia-listed the Star Entertainment Group Ltd.
Star Entertainment reported its full-year results on Friday. The group’s chief executive Matt Bekier was cited that day in the Australian media as declining to comment on whether the firm would continue to maintain business relations with the Suncity Group junket brand following the closure of the VIP room at the Star Sydney.
An Australian criminal intelligence body announced in late July a special investigation of gambling junket operators from overseas that partner with local casino operators in that country, looking at whether there are risks such business could be compromised by criminals.
News of the initiative from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) came amid accounts carried in that nation’s media that alleged Australian casino operator Crown Resorts’ business had been used as a conduit for money laundering and Chinese organised crime activities via high-roller gambling.
On Monday the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported that the chief executive of the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre said her organisation – a financial oversight body known as Austrac – was scrutinising the effectiveness of regulations concerning the know-your-customer protocols for Australian casinos. The checks would consider whether there were any loopholes, and what role casino junkets play in the market.
Nicole Rose added that Austrac would work on the issue in cooperation with the ACIC.
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