Posted on: December 16, 2021, 08:42h.
Last updated on: December 16, 2021, 12:02h.
Macau’s junkets say they are being kept ‘in confusion and fear’ about the future of their industry, following the arrest last month of Suncity CEO Alvin Chau.
Veteran junket investor Luiz Lam Kai Kuong told Macau Business Wednesday that the gambling hub’s government had failed to provide “concrete answers about what is happening and what is going to happen.”
Lam said he wanted to know whether the junkets would be able to operate legally in Macau in the future.
“What the government should do is to come clean about what junket operators are allowed to do and what activities are deemed illegal,” he said. “The government now is just being evasive and ambiguous.”
Curtains for Junkets?
Chau, the boss of the world’s biggest junket, was arrested in late November by authorities in Macau. He is accused of operating offshore online gaming sites that illegally targeted the citizens of Macau and mainland China.
Just days before his detention, prosecutors in the city of Wenzhou in eastern China issued a warrant for Chau’s arrest. He is in custody on charges of facilitating cross-border gambling.
The message was clear: Chinese authorities were no longer in the mood to tolerate the junket industry. The businesses lend money to high rollers from the mainland to gamble in Macau, bypassing controls on the movement of money.
Beijing is engaged in an escalating war against cross-border gambling and those who facilitate it. That’s as it seeks greater control of private capital to maintain the stability of the foreign exchange rate.
Macau is an autonomous special administrative region (SAR), under the one country, two systems policy. But Beijing is exerting a creeping control over the gambling hub, and there are indications that Macau is willing to do its bidding by phasing out the junket model. Late last week, Macau’s gaming regulator, DICJ, told the junkets to stop lending money to VIP clients.
Hundreds of Junket Workers Seek Help
Casinos are also facing uncertainty over the future of the junket model. Some are taking no chances and have shut their junket VIP rooms.
Meanwhile, employees of Macau’s 85 registered junket operators fear for their jobs. The collapse of the industry could leave thousands out of work.
Suncity’s junket arm, Sun City Gaming Promotion Company (SCGP), announced it would cease operating last Friday. On Wednesday, the union that represents gaming workers, the Federation of Workers’ Associations of Macau (FAOM), said it received requests for support from 700 workers affected by the closure of junket VIP rooms.
Last week, the Macau Labor Affairs Bureau reminded junkets operators they had an obligation to protect the labor rights of employees.