Suncity closes VIP gaming rooms in Macau after CEO’s arrest

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Macau junket operator Suncity Group is seen at a game fair in Macau
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Macau junket operator Suncity Group is seen at a game fair in Macau, China November 18, 2015. REUTERS / Bobby Yip / File Photo

December 1, 2021

By Farah Master and Eduardo Baptista

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Gambling conglomerate Suncity Group Holdings has closed all of its VIP gambling rooms in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, after the company’s CEO was arrested, Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The closure of the company’s VIP rooms will result in the cut of about a third of the staff in Macau, according to one of the sources, a senior casino executive denied. identified as closed has not been publicly announced.

Suncity Group, whose shares were suspended from trading on Wednesday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news comes amid a broader investigation into Suncity, which sent Macau-listed casino shares down for a third day in a row. Shares of Wynn Macau Ltd, which analysts say is the casino operator most dependent on Suncity’s gambling rooms, fell 7% on Wednesday, bringing this week’s loss to 18%.

Alvin Chau, the company’s CEO and founder of Macau’s largest betting game operator, which attracts many players at casinos, was arrested on Sunday for allegedly having related to cross-border gambling.

Macau authorities have accused Chau and 10 others of using the former Portuguese colony as the basis for an “illegal online betting platform” in the Philippines that attracts mainland Chinese.

An arrest warrant for him was also issued on Friday by the city of Wenzhou, mainland China.

“The writing is already on the wall. But nothing was done in Macau until Wenzhou police talked about it,” said the executive.

Although Chau’s grocery businesses, also known as Suncity, are not part of the listed Suncity Group, mainland China’s state media have previously pointed out that they are harmful. for China’s social order.

A 2019 article by the Economic Information Daily, a unit of China’s state news agency Xinhua, alleges that the annual amount of online betting on sites operated by Suncity is more than $1 trillion yuan ($155 billion). Suncity also did not respond to a request for comment on that estimate.

One of the casino executives told Reuters that Suncity operates VIP rooms in properties owned by all six Macau licensed casino operators – Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China , SJM Holdings, Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment.

In 2019, Suncity operated as many as 17 VIP clubs in Macau and accounted for nearly half of the gambling center’s VIP market, the executive added.

The six licensed casino operators did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Suncity Group said this week that Chau, who is both CEO and chairman, had intended to step down. Reuters’ attempts to contact Chau or his attorney were unsuccessful.

Shares of Suncity Group fell 48% on Tuesday, to a record low after suspending trading a day earlier, valued at HKD880 million ($113 million). Suncity also said that their operations will not be affected in the event that Chau’s support is no longer available.

(Reporting by Farah Master and Eduardo Baptista; Additional reporting by Donny Kwok and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs) Suncity closes VIP gaming rooms in Macau after CEO’s arrest

Bobby Allyn

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