Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | Oct 2007 “Triads Endemic in Macau”, Says Security Expert In an AFP report published last month, a leading Asian security expert warned of endemic corruption in Macau,saying triads had be- come part of mainstream society in the city. Steve Vickers, president of security consultants International Risk, said the scale of organised crime and money-laundering in Macau had prompted authorities in Beijing to make tackling the issue a priority. “I generally believe that corruption is getting out of control. Macau is becoming a mess,” he told an audience from the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Macau is held together by tectonic plates, but the fabric… of Macau is being gutted. There has been a gentrification of triad soci- ety,”he said. Vickers cited undocumented gambling visits by mainland offi- cials to launder illegally-obtained cash, the appearance of murdered bodies along the nearby Chinese coast and graft charges against se- nior government figures as examples of the worsening situation. “China’s focus is on the Olympics, but after 15 minutes after they finish, the attention will be turned to Macau.This is a serious concern for the central government,”he added. Vickers, who headed Hong Kong’s Criminal Intelligence Bu- reau during his 18 years in the city’s police force, added that Macau could descend into chaos after the death of billionaire ca- sino magnate Stanley Ho, who remains one of the most powerful figures in the territory. He stressed that Ho had never been involved in organised crime, but that his influence in maintaining the territory’s stability could not be underestimated. Malaysia Casino Founder Passes Away Lim Goh Tong, who turned a jungle hill- top in Malaysia into one of the world’s most successful casino resorts, died last month, aged 90, according to an AFP report. Mr Lim built the Genting Highlands casi- no resort in the 1960s andmade it the crown jewel of his Genting Group, a conglomerate with companies listed on the Malaysian, Sin- gaporean and Hong Kong stock exchanges. Mr Lim, a Chinese immigrant who had nothing when he arrived in Malaysia in his late teens, set an example for the country’s business community, said Mahathir Mohamad, the former leader of Malaysia. Mr Lim was ranked 204th on the Forbes 2007 list of billionaires worldwide, with his family’s assets valued at US$4.2 billion. His sec- ond son, Lim Kok Thay, now leads Genting. Mr Limwas married to Lee KimHua,with whom he had two other sons and three daughters. There are 19 grandchildren, according to his autobiography. Born in 1918 in Fujian Province in China, Mr. Lim was 19 when he moved to Malaya, as Malaysia was known then. He made his first fortune in trading heavy machinery after World War II, but struck it rich when he had the idea to develop a hilltop resort in central Pahang state, outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur. His vision for developing the Genting Highlands hinged on building a road to the resort site, which is 5,940 feet above sea level. With Malaysian government support, he began work on the project in 1965. Recounting a landslide that almost swept away the project, he wrote in his 2004 autobiography: “Back home that night, I said to 42 Briefs Regional Briefs Seouls Plans Casino Industry Expansion Seoul plans to expand its foreigner-only casino business in an at- tempt to attract more international tourists, but it is unclear how far the government will allow the plan to proceed in light of negative public sentiment, according to a report in The Korea Times . “It’s still in the initial stage,”a city official said.“We have been con- sidering what are the proper measures to expand the business.” It is likely that rather than allowing the construction of new casinos, the government will only permit the existing casinos to be expanded. The plan is part of efforts to attract more foreign travelers. The city has held a series of tourism campaigns and promotional events with the aim of attracting 12 million inbound tourists to the capital by 2010. The number of guests to casinos in Seoul has been increas- ing from 332,000 in 2005 to 698,000 in 2006. Casino revenue reached 332 billion won (US$367 million) last year, up from 260 billion won in 2005. Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said the city needed to expand its ca- sino industry in light of expansion and legalization in other parts of Asia. He also emphasized the importance on the role of casinos in tourism promotion. “We should take a full advantage of casinos to attract foreign tourists, especially rich Chinese.’ Currently, only foreigners are permitted to visit Seoul’s three casi- nos. The only casino in South Korea open to locals is Kangwon Land in Jeongseon, Kangwon Province. Melco PBL’s Funding Shortfall Melco PBL Entertainment told the US Securities & Exchange Com- mission (SEC) it still requires US$400 million for its proposed Macau casino developments. This is despite the group—a joint venture be- tween Australia’s Publishing & Broadcasting Limited and Hong Kong- listed Melco International Development—having recently raised US$581 million on the US Nasdaq exchange. The proceeds of the fund raising are to be used to finish con- struction of the City of Dreams casino on Cotai, adjacent to Venetian Macao, which opened in August. The joint venture also has plans for a third casino project in Macau. Seven Luck operates two of Seoul’s three casinos