Macao’s number of licensed junkets dropped to a record low of 46

Regulators in Macau and the Gaming Inspection Coordination Bureau reportedly authorized only 46 casino junket companies while officials in neighboring China continued to crack down on cross-border gambling.

This is the first time the number of licensed junket companies in the former Portuguese region has fallen below 50, since the Board of Audit and Inspection began issuing these certifications about 20 years ago, according to an internal report from Asia Gaming. The source also detailed that the most recent figure is well below the 77 lows recorded, down nearly 46 percent from last year’s 85 figures.

According to reports, Macau’s junket companies are said to receive fees to promote partner casinos to wealthy foreign gamblers while also processing VIPs’ travel, accommodation, banking and credit needs. However, the number of companies that receive such permits has been steadily decreasing since reaching a high of 235, driven by allegations that they may often be linked to immoral individuals and organized criminal gangs.

Macau has more than 40 casinos operated by SJM Holdings Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, MGM China Holdings Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts Limited, and Wynn Macau Limited, respectively. All six concessors must soon apply for a new 10-year license in accordance with the precepts of the new legislation currently being considered by local lawmakers.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the lowest number of junkets ever recorded in Macau could be because the bill proposes that such companies refuse to work with one or more concession operators at the same time, while putting an end to being able to sign revenue-sharing agreements with local casinos. According to the document, and the proposed rule also prohibits these companies from using third parties ‘unless a partner, member of a management organization, or employee deems it necessary’ and requires all operators to pay a 5% tax on fees.

The plunge in junket interest comes as Beijing is stepping up its long-running crackdown on illegal cross-border gambling to minimize the wealth of organized crime gangs and prevent large amounts of cash from leaking abroad. The giant country’s Ministry of Public Security reportedly said earlier this month that it has investigated more than 17,000 such incidents since it arrested more than 80,000 people last year as part of an ongoing crackdown.


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