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Asia round-up: AUSTRAC upgrades VGCCC partnership, Donaco Int & Tab NZ

VGCCC strengthens partnership with AUSTRAC 

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has extended its partnership with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) by signing an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  

The MOU will enable the VGCCC and AUSTRAC to share information, in a bid to protect the Victorian community and strengthen the gambling sector against criminal activity and abuse. Predominantly, the signing of this updated bill is aimed at fighting financial crime in the region.  

AUSTRAC also has strong partnerships with other provinces, including New South Wales, Queensland and Australian Capital Territories. 

AUSTRAC has commended the VGCCC’s work with a range of state and federal agencies to safeguard the integrity of Victoria’s gambling industry. 

Its CEO, Nicole Rose, said: “The impact on the community of criminals exploiting the gambling industry to launder the proceeds of serious crime cannot be underestimated.  

“It is critical for AUSTRAC and its state and territory-based regulatory and Government partners to work together to ensure the gambling industry is hardened against misuse by criminals.” 

Donaco International posts increasing losses in “challenging conditions” 

Donaco International said operating conditions remain challenging in its quarterly activities report for Q1 2022.  

The operator posted group EBITDA of –AU$1.4m (-$993,132) and revenue of AU$0.2m, with a cash position of AU$3.5m as of 31 March 2022. 

The company, which operates the Aristo International resort in northern Vietnam, is investigating options to protect its balance sheet until the business environment improves.  

“We remain optimistic about Donaco’s long-term future... It will take some time before travel patterns return to normal, and we are prepared for when international tourism will steadily resume again” Paul Portnat, Non-Executive Chairman of Donaco

Provided the company continues cost control and operational efficiency measures, it predicts an encouraging long–term outlook when business conditions improve. 

Donaco’s Aristo casino is operating under heavy restrictions, with Covid-19 still causing heavy disruption to travel and business in Vietnam. What’s more, the company’s Star Vegas property in Cambodia has been closed since April 2021, further restricting income avenues.  

To protect its balance sheet and preserve cash flow, Donaco has fully repaid an initial loan of AU$131.6m to its lender Mega Bank International Commerical Bank. The operator believes this debt reduction has helped preserve shareholder value while keeping its cash burn rate within the targeted range. 

Tab NZ reports turnover of NZ$4.7m above forecast for March 

Racing and sports operator Tab NZ reported a sharp increase in turnover for March, beating forecast by NZ$4.7m ($3.1m) and also coming in 16% ahead of February’s total.  

Despite the New Zealand sports betting monopoly seeing a decline in customer footfall, primarily due to the peak of Covid-19 in the region leading to restrictions for outdoor events, racing and sports wagering recovered after a below-average February.  

Final turnover for March, subject to final audit, totalled NZ$215.9m, which was 2.2% ahead of budget. Gross betting revenue (GBR) also came in ahead of the forecast by NZ$0.9m or 2.6%.   

As the company’s financial report stated: “Tab continued to operate successfully through its online and retail channels throughout March, despite some impact to retail operations due to the current Omicron outbreak.   

“The outbreak had a continued impact on foot traffic in the retail and hospitality sector, leading to a downturn in gaming turnover at Tab retail outlets, although these figures showed signs of improvements towards the end of March." 

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