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Asia round-up: New Philippines property, Las Vegas Sands ending ties with junkets and more

New hotel for Nustar to open in May

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As vaccination rates continue to go up while travel restrictions ease across the Philippines, Nustar's Fili Urban Resort General Manager Paul Lee has put his money on the idea of “revenge travel.”

“Countries are re-opening their borders with confidence and certainty, and we believe our timing and what we will be offering hits the sweet spot to capitalise on all of these,” said Lee.

Starting 10 February 2022, the Philippines will be opening its borders to foreign guests from visa-free countries for both leisure and business. According to the new regulations, fully vaccinated tourists that test negative will no longer be required to be quarantined.

In light of the new regulations, Fili Urban Resort's flagship property will open in Cebu.

Fili is the first hotel to open this year; it has 379 rooms and suites that are characterised by contemporary décor with Filipino accents.

Lee added: “The Philippines is primed for a significant uptick in the growth of the economy and tourism over the next few years. Cebu, as a prime destination for tourism, is set to capitalise on this with direct flights from within and outside of the Philippines.”

The Star Entertainment Group to repay millions in wages

A six-year retrospective wage review of salaried team members has revealed an underpayment of wages for current and former staff members of the Star Entertainment Group.

“We apologise to any team member impacted by the payment shortfall and we are committed to doing the right thing by acting transparently. Our priority is to address this issue and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again”Star MD & CEO Matt Bekier

The Star now plans to make a provision of AU$13m (US$9.2m) in its 1H FY2020 accounts for the cost of remediation; this includes back payments, interest and superannuation contributions.

The Star MD & CEO Matt Bekier commented: “We apologise to any team member impacted by the payment shortfall and we are committed to doing the right thing by acting transparently. Our priority is to address this issue and to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

In its 1H FY2020 earnings update, The Star said its earnings have been “materially impacted by Covid-19 related property shutdowns, operating restrictions and border closures.”

However, the operator is to report its financial results for the period mid-February and added it expects normalised EBITDA of AU$28-AU$30m along with normalised net loss of AU$73-AU$75m.

“The prevalence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 impacted trading results in December and January, with a peak in mid-January,” a statement from The Star read. “This impact has subsequently eased and trading continues to progressively improve.”

Las Vegas Sands cuts connections to junket promoters in Macau

Las Vegas Sands, the parent group of local gaming concessionaire Sands China, has terminated deals with three primary junket promoters.

This was suggested in an official report from the operator; and the decision came after the arrests of Alvin Chau and Levo Chan, the heads of two junket groups, Suncity and Tak Chun.

"There can be no assurance we will be able to maintain, or grow, our relationships with gaming promoters or those gaming promoters will continue to be licensed by the gaming regulator to operate in Macau; which could impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows," Sands indicated.

"For example, consistent with the overall market in Macau, we terminated our agreements with our three primary gaming promoters in December 2021."

According to a statement in the report, if any gaming promoter falls below the standards of the group, the group risks suffering reputational harm, in addition to possible sanctions from gaming regulators.

The group added that if a gaming promoter does not meet its financial obligations, there can be no assurance the group would not risk financial exposure.

Is the UAE planning to legalise gambling?

Forbes is asking some serious questions after the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah announced a deal with Wynn Resorts to develop a new multi-billion-dollar property in January.

"We are partnering with Wynn Resorts, one of the world's most renowned integrated resort companies, which has a strong track record of developing luxury destinations"Abdullah Al Abdooli, Marjan CEO

This is not the first time a casino has struck a deal in the UAE, where gambling is illegal, so now Forbes is wondering if the Gulf country is actually looking into making a change on that rule.

Wynn Resorts is collaborating with Marjan, RAK Hospitality Holding, in building a multi-billion-dollar integrated resort on the man-made Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

The opening is scheduled for 2026 and the new destination will feature over 1,000 rooms, shopping facilities, a spa, entertainment options and, most of all, a gaming area.

Abdullah Al Abdooli, Marjan CEO, said: "We are partnering with Wynn Resorts, one of the world's most renowned integrated resort companies, which has a strong track record of developing luxury destinations with exceptional accommodation, dining, entertainment concepts and gaming facilities.”

Commenting on the matter of gambling in the UAE, Jakob Kisser, UAE Managing Partner at Strohal Legal Group is quoted as saying by Forbes: “I think they will slowly develop it until they have broad acceptance in society. In the beginning, they might slightly extend the limits of what is already permitted. Local laws for example allow raffles and wagers under certain conditions.

"They might also allow poker on the basis that it is not purely a game of chance. But, at the end of the day, I’m sure there will be a proper casino licence."

Missed a big gambling industry story in Asia? Don't worry, Gambling Insider has you covered with our Asia round-up.


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