Asia round-up: FATF keeps watch on Philippines; Bloomsbury revenue up & more

Junket risk; poor AML/CTF controls keep Philippines on FATF watchlist  

Asia News Round Up PHILIPPINES Web Image

The Philippines remains on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies. 

Despite a high-level political pledge made in June 2021, the Philippines has yet to sufficiently strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering (AML) and combating financing of terrorism (CFT) regime. The pledge was, in effect, an agreement to work in tandem with the FAFT and Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) to improve the functionality and respectability of the Philippines’ anti-fraud/anti-terrorism groups. 

Despite remaining on the FATF’s grey list, the Task Force notes that steps have been taken by the Philippines to improve its AML/CFT regime. FATF cites an increase in resources directed to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Philippines, and better utilisation of Targeted Financial Sanction (TFS) frameworks.  

The FAFT details an eight-point plan for Filipino operators, regulators and supervisors to follow. It exclusively outlines the need for supervisors to demonstrate corrective use of AML/CFT controls, to mitigate risks associated with casino junkets. 

The plan also notes the need for Filipino authorities to demonstrate effective risk-based supervision of designated financial businesses (excluding banking) and professions; this would include casinos.  

The FAFT notes that applying adequate sanctions to unregistered, illegal remittance operators, as well as introducing new registration requirements on a consistent basis, would likewise need to be implemented.  

FAFT updated guidelines also call for accurate, up-to-date beneficial ownership (BO) information to be made widely available for the Law Enforcement Activity (LEA) to efficiently regulate.  

Filipino laws have subsequently been changed, to bring the country back in line with the FAFT. 

Bloomberry Resorts Corporation GGR up 50% in Q4, 22% FY in 2021 

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) at Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire casino reached Php8bn ($153m) for Q4 of 2021 — a 50% increase from the prior-year period. Q4 revenue also represents an increase of 13% on the previous quarter. 

What’s more, consolidated EBITDA dwarfed the total accumulated in the prior-year period; Php1.9bn was taken in Q4 2021, up from Php129m in the same 2020 period. 

“If the security of the state and the SAR were involved, the Government would use the ‘concept of uncertainty’ rather than the ‘National Security Act’ to deal with it” President of the Second Standing Committee, Chan Chak Mo

Mass tables and electronic gaming machine (EGM) GGR increased by 63% and 42% respectively year-on-year, with both rising sequentially by 19% and 30% respectively. 

Full-year GGR reached Php 27.6bn, up 22% at the Solaire casino. There was a 256% climb in EBITDA to Php 5.2bn for the full year too, with consolidated cash equivalents totalling Php 25.2bn as of 31 December 2021. 

Furthermore, net losses were down to Php4.2bn for FY 2021, compared to a net loss of Php8.3bn in 2020.  

However, Solaire’s VIP GGR amounted to Php6.7bn, a 16% decline year-on-year. Mass tables reached Php11.3bn for the year, and EGM GGR stood at Php9.5bn, increasing 54% and 32% respectively year-on-year. 

On the Q4 and FY results, Bloomberg Chairman and CEO Enrique K. Razon Jr said: “The year 2021 demonstrated the resilience of our business amidst a pandemic characterised by a slowly recovering economy and the absence of tourism. 

“While we look forward to better days ahead, we remain equipped to operate under challenging circumstances if they materialise.” 

Macau CEO given power to revoke gaming licenses 

There will reportedly be swift justice for illegal gaming operators in Macau should concessionaires be deemed to have violated national security laws.  

According to Inside Asia Gaming, the Macau SAR Government has told the Legislative Assembly that a revised gaming bill will grant special powers to Ho lat-seng, Macau’s Chief Executive, to rapidly terminate a gaming licence via an administrative order. 

He said: “If the security of the state and the SAR were involved, the Government would use the ‘concept of uncertainty’ rather than the ‘National Security Act’ to deal with it. 

“However, the judicial process (of revoking gaming license) would be dilatory and the [license term] might even be over by then. Therefore, an administrative order would be a better option.”

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