Ma­cau to tighten scru­tiny amid surge in VIP play­ers

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Ma­cau reg­u­la­tors are sig­nal­ing height­ened scru­tiny of gam­ing pro­mot­ers that bring in high­stakes play­ers to casi­nos op­er­ated by Las Ve­gas Sands Corp. and Wynn Re­sorts Ltd. amid an in­crease of VIP vis­i­tors to the en­clave.

MA­CAU REG­U­LA­TORS are sig­nal­ing height­ened scru­tiny of gam­ing pro­mot­ers that bring in high-stakes play­ers to casi­nos op­er­ated by Las Ve­gas Sands Corp. and Wynn Re­sorts Ltd. amid an in­crease of VIP vis­i­tors to the en­clave.

The lo­cal gov­ern­ment plans to tighten stan­dards for jun­ket op­er­a­tors be­gin­ning in Jan­uary when they re­view ap­pli­ca­tions for new and re­newed li­censes, ac­cord­ing to Paulo Chan, di­rec­tor of the Gam­ing In­spec­tion and Co­or­di­na­tion Bu­reau.

The moves come as business in the world’s big­gest gam­ing hub is boom­ing, with VIP gam­blers help­ing to drive a re­bound that saw casino rev­enue climb to a three- year high in Oc­to­ber.

“When the mar­ket gets bet­ter, more peo­ple are ea­ger to come back and do business, but Ma­cau reg­u­la­tors will be more cau­tious dur­ing the jun­ket ap­proval process,” Chan said at a brief­ing in the ter­ri­tory Tues­day.

Ma­cau has an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with the jun­ket busi­nesses that bring in mostly Chi­nese high-stakes play­ers.

Though the high-roller business has been gird­ing the casino in­dus­try’s re­bound, the Ma­cau gov­ern­ment has called for op­er­a­tors to in­crease non-gam­ing rev­enue and to ex­pand of­fer­ings to ap­peal to ca­sual gam­blers and tourists.

Last year, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced plans to in­crease over­sight of the jun­kets and raise cap­i­tal re­quire­ments.

FOL­LOW­ING GUIDE­LINES

The Ma­cau gam­ing reg­u­la­tor has con­ducted sev­eral re­views this year on jun­ket pro­mot­ers to ex­am­ine whether they have strictly ad­hered to gov­ern­ment re­quire­ments and es­tab­lished a sound fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing sys­tem, Chan said.

Ma­cau is the only place in China that al­lows casi­nos, and tight­ened reg­u­la­tions also re­flect Beijing’s drive to stanch cap­i­tal out­flows, some of which make their way to the ter­ri­tory. Across Ma­cau this year, the gov­ern­ment de­ployed au­to­mated teller ma­chines (ATM) with fa­cial recog­ni­tion soft­ware to ver­ify iden­ti­ties and help mon­i­tor trans­ac­tions for those us­ing Chi­nese bank cards. As a re­sult, the ATMs have seen a de­crease in the num­ber of with­drawals and trans­ac­tion value, ac­cord­ing to an Ap­ple Daily re­port this week.

The ATM rules fol­lowed a ban last year that pro­hibits proxy bet­ting by tele­phone aimed at curb­ing bets from gam­blers in China.

Ma­cau has also stepped up its screen­ing of vis­i­tors. More than 250 peo­ple have been banned from en­ter­ing casi­nos this year due to il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties such as theft and im­proper use of phones, Chan said. • Bloomberg

MA­CAU reg­u­la­tors plan to tighten stan­dards for jun­ket op­er­a­tors.

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