In Australia and an executive for local casino operator The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly told an official inquiry that his company still works with Suncity Group despite allegations that the Asian junket firm may have links with the criminal underworld.
According to a Tuesday report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the revelation came from the Brisbane-headquartered operator’s Chief Casino Officer, Greg Hawkins, during an official hearing held as part of a wide-ranging examination into the state of the casino industry in New South Wales.
However, the newspaper detailed that the investigation being conducted by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority also heard that The Star Entertainment Group Limited recently closed the private gaming room Suncity Group had run within its 351-room The Star Sydney property. Hawkins purportedly explained that his company took this decision after the junket enterprise’s owner, Alvin Chau (pictured), was barred by the Department of Home Affairs from entering Australia over suspicions that he has links with organised crime figures and may have been a member of Macau’s notorious 14K Triad group.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Hawkins later divulged that his firm had moved Suncity Group’s VIP gaming lounge to another area of its Sydney casino and tasked its own internal anti-money laundering compliance team with investigating the matter so as to ‘see if that brought any further information to light’. The executive purportedly moreover told the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority that his company was in the midst of an ‘ongoing assessment’ regarding this partnership but has not yet made a final determination concerning the allegations against Chau.
Hawkins reportedly told the Tuesday hearing…
“Certainly, nothing has been forwarded to me that would change our association with the junket at this point. I do have some doubt. All I’ve read is speculation but I’ve nothing to validate it. I wouldn’t pretend to fully understand the concepts of organized crime or what it relates to in that part of the world.”
The newspaper reported that junket firms such as Suncity Group assist wealthy Chinese patrons in traveling to overseas casinos so that they can gamble using pre-arranged credit. The source further revealed that such customers may only recoup any winnings upon their return home as Beijing takes a dim view of gambling and has instituted severe controls on the export of large amounts of domestic cash.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the hearing previously heard how Crown Resorts Limited had barred Suncity Group from operating its own cash exchange desk in 2018 after discovering some $4 million in bills stored within the firm’s private room inside the giant Crown Melbourne development. Hawkins purportedly additionally asserted that the junket enterprise was never afforded such an opportunity by his Sydney-listed company as all of its players are required to buy gaming chips from an official cashier cage.
Hawkins furthermore told the hearing that he had met Chau ‘a couple of times’ at social functions and would welcome New South Wales following the neighboring state of Queensland in establishing an independent regulator to approve foreign junket firms. The executive, who previously worked at Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited’s Altira Macau venue in Macau before assuming a position at the 1,600-room Crown Melbourne development, purportedly subsequently proclaimed that such an agency might be able to obtain more detailed information from law enforcement agencies while featuring a team of specialized casino inspectors to oversee what happens inside The Star Sydney and soon-to-open Crown Sydney facilities.