Yet another blow to the city’s gambling junket industry
Police in Macau are probing the theft of HK$99.7 million from a VIP gaming room at one of the city’s casinos.
The company’s executive director Angela Leong On-kei reported the alleged theft from SJM Holdings’ L’Arc Macau casino to police last week.
A VIP room supervisor surnamed Chan — who is understood to have been a long-standing SJM employee — has been named as a suspect in the Macau media and is thought to have disappeared early this month.
Operations in at least 10 VIP rooms could have been affected. These rooms are run by so-called junket operators whose business is to bring in high-rollers to gamble.
Macau Police did not to respond to questions about the case.
This alleged theft is the latest body blow to the city’s junket business and follows a wave of concern sparked last September, when it was revealed that an employee had allegedly stolen between HK$200 million and HK$2 billion from a VIP room operated by the junket Dore Holdings at Wynn Macau casino.
Angry investors took to the streets at the time, demanding the return of hundreds of millions of dollars they had trusted in one of Macau’s biggest junket operators.
The Dore Group described itself as a victim. It said that the company’s employee, whose whereabouts remained unknown, sought funds from the group’s clients and other people by unlawfully using the junket’s name.
Amid the effects of Beijing’s anti-corruption crackdown, the mainland’s economic slowdown, continuous decline in casino revenues and a push to develop the mass-market, observers and people in the gaming sector have raised the question whether the junket industry will be able to survive in a much regulated and less profitable environment.
Dozens of VIP tables have closed down and serious losses have been reported in the past months as the spotlight has also fallen on shortcomings in system which regulates who can and cannot run junkets in the city.
A new regulatory regime is in the pipeline which will make it mandatory to give the Macau authorities more detailed information on the background of those involved.
The new measures, combined with the twin effects of the corruption crackdown and the economic slowdown on the mainland have seen some junket operators eye opportunities outside Macau in the burgeoning Asia-Pacific casino market.