Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of Macau gaming concessionaire Sands China, has confirmed it recently terminated agreements with at least three of the SAR’s largest junket operators.
The update formed part of the company’s Annual Report for 2021 in a section outlining potential future risk factors that may affect its business operations in its key markets of Macau, Singapore or Nevada.
Noting that the company is dependent on junkets, or gaming promoters as they are officially referred to, LVS said it can’t be sure it will be able to maintain or grow its relationship with these gaming promoters or that they will continue to be licensed by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).
“For example,” LVS said, “consistent with the overall market in Macau, we terminated our agreements with our three primary gaming promoters in December 2021.”
The decision to end its relationship with at least some major junkets follows the arrest in late November of Alvin Chau, the CEO of Sun City Gaming Promotion Company Limited, for alleged criminal association, illegal gambling and money laundering. Suncity, by far the largest junket in Asia with almost 50% market share, subsequently ceased its junket business and closed down all VIP rooms.
Levo Chan, the CEO of Macau’s second largest junket Tak Chun Group, was arrested and detained in late January in a case authorities say is linked to the Suncity case.
Following the government’s junket crackdown, the DICJ published its list of 46 approved VIP gaming promoters for 2022 – down from 85 approved promoters in 2021, although a further 29 applications are still being processed.
LVS said in its Annual Report that “the quality of gaming promoters with whom we have relationships is important to our reputation and our ability to continue to operate in compliance with our gaming licenses.
“While we strive for excellence in our associations with gaming promoters, we cannot assure you the gaming promoters with whom we are associated will meet the high standards we insist upon,” it said.
“If a gaming promoter falls below our standards, we may suffer reputational harm, as well as worsening relationships with, and possible sanctions from, gaming regulators with authority over our operations.”
LVS also noted that the findings of a recent court case in Macau which found fellow concessionaire Wynn Macau Ltd jointly liable for repayment of a HK$6 million (US$770,000) debt owed to a VIP customer as a result of the theft of up to HK$700 million (US$90 million) from the VIP room of gaming promoter Dore Entertainment Co Ltd in 2015. The money was stolen by a Dore employee.
LVS said it could not issue assurances on its ability to monitor all activities carried out by the junkets it works with or to what extent the Macau courts will in the future find the company liable for their activities.