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Macau Gambling Regulators Shut Down Junket Operations

Move Comes Shortly After the CEO of the Largest Operation in the Region was Arrested On Illegal Gambling Charges

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In the wake of the arrest of one of the CEOs of the largest junket operations in the region, gaming regulators in Macau have basically put a stop to the practice altogether.

According to a Reuters report, Macau’s gaming regulators ordered all junket operators to stop offering credit to high roller and VIP gamblers.

In Macau, junkets operate similarly to casino hosts in the United States. Junkets attract high-stakes gamblers to certain properties with lines of credit to gamble with and other perks including comped meals and free lodging on the property.

The Chinese government, which has worked hard to keep capital within its country’s borders, is concerned that the junket operations will help siphon money out of the Chinese economy and into other countries.

At the end of November, Suncity, one of the largest junkets in the former Portuguese colony, had its CEO Alvin Lau taken into custody on illegal gambling charges. Chau allegedly brought high rollers to Macau, which he used as his base for his “live web betting platform” which was based in the Philippines.

It’s estimated that about 30% of Macau’s gambling revenue, which still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels, comes from junket operations that incentivize high-stakes gambling. One gaming consultant in Macau told Reuters that if the government makes this measure permanent, the market will likely never reclaim its title as the world’s largest casino market.

“If this is true, the junkets will have to operate as a travel agency, through activities such as receiving fees for bringing rich clients to casino operators, rather than receiving commissions from VIP gaming rooms which has been the main business model for years,” Carlos Lobo told the news outlet.