Our biggest Asia-based stories of the week are detailed below, with the top story coming from Macau...
Alvin Chau formally charged with illegal gambling and money laundering
The former boss of the junket Suncity Group has been officially indicated by Macau’s Public Prosecution Office (PPO).
The PPO has found Chau guilty of founding and operating a “secret association or society,” one that was adjudged to have illicitly exploited Macau’s gambling industry and laundered money.
Chau was arrested alongside 21 associates in late November 2021, and the Suncity Group which Chau led has been in turmoil ever since.
Not only had the well-known junket masked Chau’s illegal offshore gambling activities, but as part of a revamp to gambling laws, Macau’s Legislative Assembly plans to phase out independently operated junkets in the coming years.
This has led to a string of junkets going out of business, while several others have seen their stock fall dramatically as they scramble to stabilise liquidity.
This has been further compounded by persistent Covid-19 restrictions which continue to plague Macau and its surrounding provinces, financially damaging casinos and other associated businesses.
VGCCC reveals new EGM restrictions for Crown Melbourne
The Victorian Gambling Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has announced new restrictions on EGM machines at Crown Melbourne.
All players using Crown Melbourne facilities will be banned from using any item to hold down EGM buttons for continuous play. Players will also be banned from using more than one game machine at a given time.
The VGCCC notes that the new rules put in place at Crown Melbourne will better help the casino’s policy fall in line with the responsible gambling objectives set out in Australia’s Gambling Regulation Act 2003, and the Casino Control Act 1991.
“Playing more than one machine at a time is not consistent with the responsible gambling objectives contained in the legislation, and nor is playing continuously by using items to hold down an electronic gaming machine button” Jason Cremona, VGCCC Acting Director
The VGCCC’s latest filing refused to rule out applying additional recommendations from a 2021 report from Victoria’s Royal Commission.
In fact, the VGCCC has implied that most regulatory changes will likely be initiated in the future.
Jason Cremona, VGCCC’s Acting Director for Licensing, said: "Playing more than one machine at a time is not consistent with the responsible gambling objectives contained in the legislation, and nor is playing continuously by using items to hold down an electronic gaming machine button."
The Star appoints a new interim Chairman and Acting CEO
The Star Entertainment Group has appointed Ben Heap as interim Chairman, and Geoff Hogg as Acting CEO.
Subject to any regulatory approvals, the positions are effective from 1 June 2022 and follow the resignation of John O’Neill as Executive Chairman. O’Neill tendered his resignation as Executive Chairman on 20 May and also advised he would be stepping down from the company’s board.
As noted by the operator, O’Neill will transition his Chair and executive responsibilities in an orderly manner, and will formally step down on 31 May 2022. He was appointed as Executive Chairman on an interim basis on 1 April following the resignation of Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier on 28 March.
Genting Singapore hopes to attract “premium” visitors following pandemic
Genting Singapore’s CEO Tan Hee Teck informed shareholders of his hope to attract “premium” visitors to Resorts World Sentosa (RSW), as Singapore looks to bounce back from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the operator's AGM (Annual General Meeting), Tan noted that overcoming crippled staff numbers in Singapore’s hospitality industry, as well as stronger revenue upon the return of air travel, will both be vital to re-establishing pre-pandemic levels at Genting’s resort.
Tan hopes those visiting Singapore will be “premium” guests with the ability to spend, believing pent-up demand for entertainment services will drive a rush to return to the gaming scene for high-income players.
Tan hopes those visiting Singapore will be “premium” guests with the ability to spend, believing pent-up demand for entertainment services will drive a rush to return to the gaming scene for high-income players
To keep up with what Tan hopes is unprecedented demand, the Genting CEO believes the development of facilities, restaurants and hotel rooms is vital to cater to new customer demographics.
Specifically, Tan believes the obvious trend would be the arrival of younger professionals and has announced new initiatives will be incorporated at RSW to address this.
Genting Malaysia Q1 revenue up 176% to MYR1.72bn
Operator Genting Malaysia has recorded Q1 2022 revenue of MYR1.72bn ($391.3m), up 176% from the same period last year.
Genting Malaysia also registered adjusted EBITDA of MYR414.4m for Q1, compared to negative MYR110.4m in Q1 2021.
Furthermore, the casino operator’s net loss narrowed by 71% to MYR147.9m, while pre-tax losses narrowed even further by 79% compared with the prior-year period.
Genting Malaysia’s flagship casino in Malaysia, Resorts World Genting, posted revenue of MYR920m this quarter from hospitality and leisure, a figure more than triple what the casino made in Q1 last year.
The operator attributes its vastly improved performance to eased Covid-19 related restrictions, which plagued most of Malaysia throughout most of 2021.
The group also claims its narrowed EBITDA margins were helped by higher debt recovery.
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