Melco Resorts & Entertainment has once again distanced itself from Dr Stanley Ho – the father of its Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho – after the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority announced an official inquiry into Melco’s acquisition of a 19.99% stake in Crown Resorts.
As reported by Inside Asian Gaming last week, the inquiry has been prompted by recent Australian media reports alleging links between Crown Resorts and Asian crime syndicates and questioning Crown’s use of junkets.
Those same reports have also questioned Melco’s recent acquisition of a Crown stake given that the NSW regulator issued Crown a gambling license for its AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney in 2014 under the condition that it wasn’t to have any involvement with companies linked to Dr Ho.
In a statement published by Reuters late Friday, Melco again distanced itself from any dealings with Stanley Ho, stating he “does not exercise any influence on any financial and operating policies or other matters of these companies.”
Melco also promised to cooperate with the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority’s inquiry into its acquisition of a Crown stake.
Dr Stanley Ho is widely considered to be one of the founding fathers of Macau’s casino industry with the company he co-founded, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau, SA (STDM) having held a Macau casino monopoly for 40 years between 1962 and 2002. STDM is also majority shareholder in SJM Holdings, one of six companies to be issued Macau gaming concessions following liberalization of the industry in 2002.
However, the 97-year-old’s health has been in decline in recent years and he has rarely been sighted in public since falling ill in late 2009. He officially stepped down as Chairman of SJM in June 2018 although it is believed he has had little to no involvement in the day-to-day running of the company for some time.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority said last week that its inquiry aims to ensure that the management and operation of Crown Sydney, due for completion in 2021, remain free from criminal influence or exploitation and that gaming is conducted honestly, “controlling the potential … to cause harm to the public interest and to individuals and families.”