Tan hope­ful of green light for sports bet­ting

> Mo­nop­o­lies in casino and pay-tele­vi­sion mar­kets should be bro­ken, says Ber­jaya Corp founder

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY EVA YEONG

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

said.

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.

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