Tan hopeful of green light for sports betting
> Monopolies in casino and pay-television markets should be broken, says Berjaya Corp founder
PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp) founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun ( pix) is hopeful that the government will relook its stand on sports betting in the country, as well as break the monopolies in the casino and pay television markets.
“Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd is still there, we have first right of refusal,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Four Seasons Hotel and Hotel Residences Kyoto’s official opening in Kyoto, Japan, on Tuesday.
Ascot was reportedly given approval for the reissuance of a licence to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions by the Ministry of Finance in 2010. This however did not go through when the government decided against introducing sports betting.
“There has been a monopoly in the casino market for too long. We hope the government will consider a second casino licence,” Tan said.
Speaking at the launch of its latest overseas venture, Tan said the falling ringgit will not stop the group from investing overseas.
“I believe it will appreciate again. The ringgit will be stronger. It is partly a Trump effect,” he said.
The ringgit closed at 4.46 to the US dollar yesterday.
“Our business strategy is to cut cost and be more thrifty, and we may be less generous with pay rises and bonuses. However, we try not to cut staff and contribute to unemployment. Sometimes, we transfer staff so that they can continue employment within the group,” he said.
In terms of its overseas business, Tan said Vietnam looks very promising and could potentially be one of its biggest contributors in the future, while prospects are also good in China, Japan and the Philippines.
This year alone, BCorp, through its host of subsidiaries, successfully launched its lottery operations in Vietnam in July and, a couple of days ago, Four Seasons Kyoto, its first venture with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Tan has already announced plans for a second property in Okinawa in four years’ time. “Right now, we have one game only (in Vietnam). We aim to launch 10 to 12 different games. We will introduce four to five games in the first year, and another four to five games in the following year,” he
BCorp’s gaming business in Vietnam is operated by Berjaya Gia Thinh Investment Technology Joint Stock Co (Berjaya GTI). The group holds the exclusive rights to operate computerised lottery for 18 years.
Tan said it also wants to roll out mobile gaming in Vietnam and is currently working on plans for it.
“The lottery business is a very important component of our group. We have operations in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines and we hope to do more in other countries although it may be tough and expensive,” he added.
Tan said it is on the lookout for opportunities to buy lottery businesses overseas but, to date, the offers are either too expensive or not worth it.
Meanwhile, Tan does not see the opening of convenience store chain Family Mart in Malaysia as a threat as 7-Eleven has first-mover advantage.
“In any business there is competition. We have over 2,000 7-Eleven stores and we open about 200 stores per year. Even if they (Family Mart) open 200 stores per year, it will take them a long time to come close to us. The competition may make us determined to open more stores too and make our team more alert,” he said.
As for its telco business, Tan said it has yet to achieve profitability but is doing well with its aggressive pricing strategy.
“It is a big challenge but we are doing well, now we are recognised as the fourth telco ... the government gave us a fair share of the spectrum and we challenge the market with low prices, which helps drive prices down. We disrupt the market, which is good for consumers,” he said.
On rumours of the group selling U Mobile, Tan said it will sell if the offer
is one it cannot refuse.