All VIP rooms operated by junket operator Suncity in the SAR are currently closed (Wednesday), newspaper Macao Daily reported.
A Suncity Group spokesperson had previously indicated that all of the group’s VIP rooms would be closed from December 1, but for two VIP lounges of the StarWorld Hotel and Galaxy Macau, however, the gaming concessionaire later stated the two rooms would also be closed.
The decision comes after the high profile arrest of Suncity’s CEO, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, and 10 other people during the weekend, as part of an investigation into suspected illegal gambling and money laundering.
Five of them including Chau are currently being held in pre-trial detention, and face crimes of participating in a criminal association (which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison), of leading a criminal association (up to 12 years in prison), money laundering (up to eight years) and illegal gambling (up to three years).
Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Limited has announced that Chau would resign from his positions in the group as chairman of the Board, Executive Director and controlling shareholder.
‘The Group is dependent on the financial support from Mr. Chau and his related companies. In the event that the Group losses the support of Mr. Chau for whatever reason, the financial position, business and operation of the Group will be adversely affected,’ the group said at the time.
Suncity Group is the Hong Kong-listed arm of local junket operator Suncity Gaming Promotion Company Limited but it’s completely separate from its junket operations.
The Hong Kong-listed group today announced another trading half starting from 9:00am, as it prepares for another announcement. The previous day the group’s shares had plunged by 48 per cent to only HK$0.13.
As consulted by MNA today the group had removed several of its subsidiaries from its official website, such as Sun Entertainment Group Limited, a Hong Kong-listed associate with interests in film and music.
Gaming news platform AllinMedia indicated in an article that some 1,000 employees in Suncity VIP lounges remained before the closures, with only 5 VIP lounges located in StarWolrd, City of Dreams, Wynn Palace, MGM Macau and The Londoner remaining in operations.
The company had been dismissing many employees even before the arrests, as the company’s operations were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and increased mainland oversight.
According to brokerage Sanford C. Benrstein, Suncity held an outsized 45 per cent of junket market share pre-Covid, however, over the last months this share had plummeted to 20 per cent.
Macau News Agency has contacted Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) to inquire if Suncity’s license will be revoked but no reply has been provided as of the time of publishing.
Suncity Gaming Promotion Company Limited junket license – as with all other junket licenses – will end on December 31 after which the DICJ will decide on its renewal.
Analysts previously posited that the recent police operation surrounding the top management of junket operator Suncity will drive even more VIP players to move away from junket agents to direct VIP or premium mass, however, the sector was already in free fall due to increased regulatory scrutiny.