Final court ruling on Dore case of extreme importance to define gaming operator’s liability – Paulo Martins Chan

The former Director of the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ), Paulo Martins Chan, stated in an exclusive interview with Macau News Agency and Macau Business that a final ruling by the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) on the Dore theft case will be crucial in defining the responsibility held by gaming concessionaires for the actions of junkets.

“We don’t have a decision yet, but this case will be very important for the whole sector. If the concessionaire is found to be responsible, they will be very careful regarding the junkets and, in addition, the relationship with the junkets will also change. It all depends on the decision of the TUI,” Chan stated.

In 2015, a junket operator named Dore Entertainment Co., Ltd. was the victim of internal theft by casino cage manager Mimi Chow Ioc Mei, who left after stealing HK$700 million from the junket operator, which operated out of Wynn Macau.

In 2016, courts had ordered Miss Chow, whose whereabouts remain unknown, to repay some MOP103 million in funds owed to Dore.

At the time of the incident, several people claimed that they had invested in Dore Entertainment based on the promise of higher returns than those offered by regulated banks, but had lost their money because of the alleged incident.

Four such individuals pursued claims totalling HK$64 million, but three of them failed to provide the necessary documentation.

The fourth individual was able to produce a receipt showing a HK$6 million deposit made to the cage manager.

Because the deposit contract was made between Dore and the individual, TJB ruled that the junket operator was responsible for ensuring repayment of the debt, inclusive of court costs and interest on the deposit from September 2015.

In 2018, a legal ruling by the Court of Second Instance (TSI) ruled that Wynn Macau was jointly liable for the HK$6 million refund, with the ongoing appeal at TUI to be of extreme importance as a legal precedent.

“If the license is yours, the problem is yours. You have to find a way to control, according to the contract between the junket and the concessionaire. So, if one day, the court decides that the concessionaire is also responsible, the gaming operator will have to be more careful when selecting the junket or they’ll have to manage VIP gaming by themselves,” Chan added.

The former DICJ head also indicated that in addition to the Dore cases, there are still more than ten other similar cases in court, several of which have reached the court of second instance.

Chan also hinted to MNA that a specific type of criminal offence concerning the illegal raising of funds by junkets was also included in the newly completed legislation advanced by the DICJ to better control the sector.

“I think there is a reason for the existence of junkets and concessionaires are not stupid. They sign a contract with a junket, because they feel they have a need that only a junket can satisfy. It’s the market working and we operate in a free economy. As long as no one is committing any irregularities, the watchdog is fine with it,” Chan added.

Paulo Martins Chan requested to step down from his position as DICJ Director so that he could return to the Public Prosecutions Office, with Adriano Marques Ho replacing him in the position effective from June 10.

[Read the full exclusive interview with Paulo Martins Chan in the July edition of Macau Business magazine]