Macau casino stock shares plunged due to the arrest of 11 people who have alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering. Allegedly, among the arrested is the Chief Executive Officer of the Macau Legend Development, an authority that runs these casinos.
Gambling is banned in most parts of China. It is allowed in Macau which is an administrative region of China like Hong Kong.
Alvin Chau is the CEO of Suncity Group Holdings, which is a gambling sector investment firm. He is also the founder of Suncity – a junket operator which handles VIPs to play at casinos, offering them luxury, credit, etc.
The local authorities have accused Chau of forming a junket agent network that was helping the mainland citizens in gambling activities in other countries. The authorities also claimed that the accused has an asset management company on mainland china that was helping the gamblers to make illegal fund transfers to different countries.
The Business Impact
This has impacted the businesses of some of the city’s biggest operators. Shares in MGM china fell by 11%, Waynn Macau’s shares decreased by 9% and Sands China lost 6 %. Investors were showing signs of worry about the business loss and sanctions or bans that may follow. The recent harsh responses from the Chinese authorities have put a question mark on the fate of these casinos.
The Suncity alone accounts for more than 50% of revenue in Macau, which is roughly 50% of the gaming revenues. The Market value of shares in Suncity Group is around HK$1.7 billion, however, these shares didn’t include in the trade temporarily. COVID-19 restriction plus this ban has led to a loss of around 165% this year.
The Sun Entertainment Group Limited is a film production group. Chau is one of the important and controlling shareholders in this Group. This company also suffered a 25% loss in shares.
The gambling industry alone contributed to the Macau government’s 80% revenues, directly or indirectly.
Has It has always been the same way?
China did not always ban poker and other games. In the past, it had somehow supported this industry. But later it was illegal in the mainland and was only legal in a few administrative areas, one of which is Macau. Macau is the Mecca of gaming and Las Vegas of China. It is one of the top gambling destinations. In this recent times, the attitude of Chinese authorities towards gaming, especially online games has not been positive.
China has banned different poker applications. Moreover, the apps of Poker King, Poker Tribe, and many others are illegal or the access of the Chinese citizens is difficult. The poker apps that are products of companies in China have also been banned.
In 2015 a Chinese police task force closed an Asia-Pacific Tour event in Nanjing. Reports of many other crackdowns were coming from Macau. They are using other methods like limiting ATM cash withdrawals, unregulated lending, and other similar sanctions. Interestingly, a Chinese company owns the World Poker Tour, so its fate is still unclear.
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