Asia round-up: Steve Wynn sued; NSW wants higher fines & Vietnam casino scheme

Steve Wynn sued by US; compelled to register as Chinese agent 

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The Founder of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn, has been sued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in an attempt to force the former casino mogul to register under China’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).  

The DOJ claimed Wynn, a major Republican fundraiser, asked former US President Donald Trump to cancel the visa of a Chinese businessperson seeking asylum in the US in 2017. 

The businessman in question, Guo Wengui, had been charged with corruption by China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) following accusations of bribery and sexual assault from the Chinese Government. 

However, Guo claims to have been apprehended without reasonable cause, after revealing corrupt ties between senior Chinese Government figures and business leaders.  

Now privy to this information, the DOJ hopes to compel Wynn to register under FARA and as a member of China's MPS. 

The DOJ believes it has sufficient evidence to prove Wynn engaged in efforts to extradite Guo at the behest of Sun Lijun, the MPS’ Vice Minister. 

Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s National Security Division, Matthew Olson, said: “The filing of this suit – the first affirmative civil lawsuit under FARA in more than three decades – demonstrates the department’s commitment to ensuring transparency in our democratic system. 

“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know.”  

Naturally, Wynn’s lawyers have denied these charges. 

A statement from his representatives, Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, reads: “Steve Wynn has never acted as an agent of the Chinese government and had no obligation to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.  

“Where a foreign government uses an American as its agent to influence policy decisions in the United States, FARA gives the American people a right to know” Matthew Olson, Assistant Attorney General, US Department of Justice, National Security Division

“We respectfully disagree with the Department of Justice’s legal interpretation of FARA and look forward to proving our case in court.” 

Liquor & Gaming NSW wants fines raised for illegal advertising 

The New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator says online betting providers who advertise illegally should be given higher penalties, as reported by WAtoday. 

Liquor & Gaming NSW, which is responsible for monitoring advertising to detect inducements to gamble such as cash-back offers, says repeat offenders treat fines simply as a cost of doing business. 

Since 2018, the maximum fine for operators guilty of promoting inducements is AU$110,000 (US$77,000), but the top penalty has never been handed out. 

PointsBet was fined AU$35,000 earlier this month for publishing illegal gambling inducements, after pleading guilty to two offences on its Instagram account and website last year. Around 2,500 are believed to have received the ad. 

The online operator received an AU$20,000 fine for the same offences in 2019, and is one of seven bookmakers to have been caught more than once for illegal inducements in the past four years. 

Anthony Keon, Chief Executive of Hospitality and Racing in the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, commented: “Absolutely fines need to be higher. We would like to see penalties for repeated behaviour towards the upper end... if they fail to respond to that, we will be discussing with the Government to get fines increased.” 

Since 2015, Liquor & Gaming NSW has prosecuted 37 matters for such advertising, with AU$642,500 handed out in fines. 

Ho Chi Min City to pilot casino scheme for Vietnamese citizens 

Ho Chi Min City has put itself forward to pilot the opening of casinos for Vietnamese citizens aged 18 or over. 

The pilot scheme will only extend to casinos at five-star rated hotels in popular tourist destinations.  

Ho Chi Min City considers the move to be a favourable policy for tourism investment, especially in established visitor hotspots.  

Up until recently, Vietnam has held a strict foreigner-only policy on all its casinos. However, in early 2017 the Vietnamese Government issued Decree No. 03, which provided a legal framework for casinos allowing local citizens aged 21 and over  with a monthly income of at least VN10m ($432) – to play at local venues. 

Alongside this measure, Ho Chi Min City hopes to develop karaoke parlours, nightclubs and bars to enhance the city’s nighttime economy. 

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