In Macau and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regulator has reportedly licensed just 46 casino junket firms for 2022 at the same time as officials in neighboring China are continuing their crackdown against cross-border gambling.
According to a report from inside Asian Gaming, this is the first instance since the watchdog began issuing such certifications some 20 years ago that the tally of licensed junket firms in the former Portuguese enclave has dipped below 50. The source detailed that the most recent figure is also well under the previous record low of 77 seen in 2006 and almost 46% down on last year’s reckoning of 85.
Junket firms in Macau reportedly receive a commission for promoting partner casinos to wealthy foreign gamblers while simultaneously handling such VIP’s travel, accommodation and banking or credit needs for amounts that can often run into the millions of dollars. However, the number of such licensed firms has been steadily decreasing since reaching a high of 235 in 2013 on the back of allegations they may often have links to unscrupulous individuals and organized crime syndicates.
Macau is home to over 40 casinos operated by SJM Holdings Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, MGM China Holdings Limited and the local Sands China Limited and Wynn Macau Limited subordinates of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts Limited respectively. All six of these concessionaires will soon be obliged to apply for new ten-year licenses under of the precepts of a fresh piece of legislation currently being considered by local lawmakers.
Inside Asian Gaming reported that the record low number of Macau junkets could be down to the fact that this coming legislation is proposing to put an end to such firms being able to ink revenue-sharing arrangements with area casinos while refusing to allow them to simultaneously partner with more than one concessionaire. As written and the propositioned rules are to moreover purportedly seek to bar these enterprises from utilizing third parties ‘except in situations deemed necessary by their partners, members of the management body or employees’ and require all operators to hand over a 5% tax on commissions.
The slump in junket interest furthermore comes as the government for China is stepping up its long-running clampdown on illicit cross-border gambling so as to minimize the wealth of organized crime syndicates and stop large sums of cash from being spent overseas. This giant nation’s Public Security Ministry purportedly revealed earlier this month that it had investigated more than 17,000 such cases after last year arresting more than 80,000 people as part of its continuing crackdown.