Macau’s Court of Final Appeal has ruled that Wynn Macau and MGM China are “jointly and severally liable” after it retried nine cases involving VIP room deposits.
The nine cases – eight of which relate to the theft of up to HK$700 million (US$90 million) from junket promoter Dore Entertainment Co Ltd’s VIP room at Wynn Macau in 2015 – were tried in January and February of this year with the plaintiffs claiming to have deposited between HK$1 million and HK$6 million. The other case involved a former VIP room run by Sun City Gaming Promotion Co Ltd at an MGM property.
In each case it was alleged that Dore and Sun City had rejected their efforts to withdraw funds after previously making deposits.
The cases had initially been filed with the Court of First Instance (TJB) and decisions to find Wynn and MGM jointly liable were largely supported by the Court of Second Instance (TSI), however all nine cases were ultimately appealed to the Court of Final Appeal which adjudged the concessionaires liable in all instances.
“It would not be logical that the development of the activities included in the gaming concession could be carried out for the benefit of the concessionaire by other entities contracted for this purpose, without resulting in any liability for the damage caused by the activity that these same entities could cause,” the court said.
It therefore held that the concessionaires should be jointly and severally liable for the debts incurred by gaming promoters operating within its casinos.
The rulings mirror a previous decision by the Court of Final Appeal in November 2021 which upheld a 2018 decision by the TSI which found Wynn Macau and Dore Entertainment Co Ltd jointly liable for repayment of a HK$6 million (US$770,000) debt owed to a VIP customer.
That decision seemingly caught the eye of all Macau’s concessionaires, a number of which referenced potential junket liability in their 2021 Annual Reports. This included MGM China, which said it could be liable for up to HK$202.7 million (US$25.9 million) in relation to deposits by individuals within its properties.
Others, such as Sands China and Galaxy Entertainment Group, have recently said they expect no material impact from such cases.
Concessionaire liability is referenced under Article 48F(2) of the new Macau gaming law, which reads, “Concessionaires are jointly and severally liable for the liability of their gaming promoters arising from carrying out gaming promotion activities in their casinos.” While this is nothing new, it also, for the first time, holds them “jointly and severally liable for the liability of members of administrative organs, employees, and collaborators of their gaming promoters arising from carrying out gaming promotion activities in their casinos.”