Asia round-up: Galaxy Entertainment closes two satellite casinos; SJM holds out

Macau: Two Galaxy Entertainment satellite casinos have closed 

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Macau: Two Galaxy Entertainment satellite casinos have closed 

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), one of Macau’s six concessionaires, has confirmed the closure of satellite casinos, Rio Casino and President Casino, from Thursday 16 June. 

GEG is currently conducting internal inventory checks at both casinos, with staff to be transferred to other locations. 

The concessionaire said its staff’s employment terms would remain unchanged, and that all employees will be offered vocational training to adapt to new working environments.  

Both the Rio and President casinos were part of GEG’s City Clubs group, which also includes Casino Waldo on the Macau peninsula. 

The closure of both mobile casino outlets follows news of expected changes to Macau’s gaming laws. Macau's new gaming bill, which is now on its third draft, was initially designed to only allow satellites to operate on the property of its concession holder.

The bill, being drafted by Macau's Legislative Assembly (AL), has since dropped this legislative aspect, owing to the significant impact on employment it could have had. 

As revealed to the media by members of Macau’s Legislative Assembly (AL), the bill's latest version will, however, require satellites to operate on a management contract with no revenue sharing. 

Despite the AL's changes to the bill, which came at the 11th hour, the months-long uncertainty surrounding the future of Macau’s satellite casino industry has caused many concessionaires to accelerate plans to reduce or cease operations at satellites.  

Other satellite casinos expected to close include all four operating under Golden Dragon Group and the Grand Emperor Hotel casino.  

Macau’s gaming bill should be voted on at some point next week.  

Galaxy Entertainment Group said all its staff’s employment terms would remain unchanged, and that all staff will be offered vocational training to adapt to new working environments

SJM to continue running gaming operations at satellite casino 

Although several of Macau’s satellite casinos are expected to close, SJM Holdings has vowed to continue running operations at the satellite casino in Grand Emperor Hotel. 

SJM is set to receive HK$21m (US$2.7m) in fees as part of its continued management of casino operations.  

SJM will continue operating the satellite until 31 December 2022; the end date of concessionaire licence extensions granted by Macau’s Government. 

The extension process was introduced to allow Macau authorities time to prepare a fresh public tender process while its new gaming bill was being considered. 

Emperor Entertainment, the operator of Grand Emperor Hotel, notes it has been in negotiations with SJM since April to discuss new arrangements.  

Under a new deal, Tin Hou Ltd, a subsidiary of Emperor Entertainment, will provide SJM Holdings with hotel rooms, catering and ancillary services for it to continue running gaming operations at Grand Emperor Hotel. 

SJM is not expected to renew its concession licence for the Grand Emperor Hotel satellite casino once it expires at the end of 2022.

ACMA makes significant illegal gambling website block 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has made one of its most significant illegal gambling website blocks ever, requesting that Australian internet service providers (ISPs) block thepokies.net. 

As noted by the ACMA, payments to the website are estimated to run into tens of millions of dollars, with data from Similarweb showing around 30,000 Australians visit the site each month. 

An investigation from the authority found the site was operating online casino-style games, which are prohibited in the country under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. 

The ACMA has also requested ISPs to block illegal gambling sites Azure Hand, Abo Casino, Betroom, 777Bay, Space Lilly, Jet Casino, Katsu Bet and Winz. 

The ACMA added that 160 illegal services have pulled out of the Australian market, since the group started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017. Along with website blocking, the authority also relies on industry engagement, targeted enforcement and public education to disrupt illegal gambling. 

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