Weekly Asia round-up: Australia investigates sportsbooks, Macau shows signs of life and more

Australia’s financial watchdog orders investigation into leading sportsbooks

Asia Weekly

AUSTRAC, the financial crimes watchdog in Australia, has ordered an audit into Sportsbet and bet365, citing a need to check the two sportsbook brands are in compliance with anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism regulations.

The investigation comes after the watchdog conducted an extensive look into the market, and the audit will assess whether Sportsbet and bet365 are in compliance with four specific regulatory sections.

The move comes amid a gambling scandal in Australia, with The Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts currently in the midst of a sea of legal troubles after Adam Bell’s investigation into the Sydney casino uncovered links to organised crime, money laundering and a wave of other regulatory and legal breaches.

Macau reports gross gaming revenue for October

Macau has reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of MOP$3.89bn (US$480m) for October 2022. The figure represents a 31% increase from September 2022’s total of MOP$2.96bn.

This is largely attributable to the return of e-visas which allows for local, quarantine-free travel to and from China’s mainland. 

However, despite these gains, October’s GGR represented an 11% decline from October 2021, when GGR amounted to MOP$4.36bn. 

Even though revenue was higher for October, February’s figure of MOP$7.75bn remains the highest total of 2022 so far, as well as representing the only month in which GGR grew year-on-year.

China re-opens smart visa facility to Macau from 1 November

China is pushing ahead with plans to re-open the smart visa facility from 1 November for Chinese nationals coming from the mainland.

The re-opening allows visitors from the mainland to apply for visas individually or in groups to travel to the Chinese gambling province.

However, some restrictions have been put in place, with an official statement from China’s National Immigration Administration (NIA) stating: “Mainland residents can apply for group travel and individual travel visas using the smart visa facility at the entry-exit administration department of their household registration or usual place of residence, without the need to submit paper applications."

It marks the first time that Chinese residents can apply for a visa since March 2020, when much of the world went into lockdown.

Melco posts huge revenue drop

Melco Resorts & Entertainment has reported a 46% drop in total revenue for Q3 2022, generating $241.8m in the three months ending September 2022.

This is a major decline on the $446.4m for the same period in 2021.

Melco’s Q3 report revealed more bad news: its adjusted EBITDA was negative $34.9m compared to negative $31.9m in Q3 2021.

Operating loss stood at a significant $198.5m, down an additional $16.3m on last year’s loss of $182.2m.

SJM reports difficult Q3

SJM Holdings has released its Q3 report, which showed a total negative EBITDA of HK$2.1bn (US$267m) for the first nine months of 2022.

Furthermore, the report showed a 60% fall in net gaming revenue (NGR), totalling HK$913m, compared to Q3 2021.

As the parent company of SJM Resorts in Macau, SJM has seen significant losses in the past year due to China’s zero-Covid policy, which has crippled Macau’s gambling footfall. As a result, the Q3 report shows that SJM is 36% down annually for the first nine months of the year, with HK$4.7bn vs HK$7.3bn for last year.

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