Aftermath of Chau’s arrest
Unnamed sources within the Macau gaming industry have alleged that Wynn Macau will shutter all its VIP gambling rooms on December 20, according to Allin Media. The report, which emerged Monday, has linked the planned closures to the arrest of Alvin Chau Cheok-wa, the billionaire CEO of Macua’s biggest junket operator Suncity Group.
around a third of Wynn’s Macau staff will lose their jobs
According to Reuters, Wynn said in a statement that Suncity VIP rooms at both Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace suspended operations last week following news of the investigation. The media company also quoted an unnamed senior casino executive who confirmed that around a third of Wynn’s Macau staff will lose their jobs as a result of the VIP room closures.
According to local media reports, Wynn Macau did not respond to questions regarding rumors of its plans for long-term closures. A senior executive of the company, Linda Chen, remained tight-lipped on the situation when questioned at an event on Monday.
The alleged crimes
Last month, Chinese police arrested Alvin Chau, the billionaire CEO of Suncity Group, along with ten others on suspicion of illegal gambling and money laundering, Chau subsequently resigned from his chief executive role. The arrest marks the first time Chinese authorities have gone after a high-profile gaming industry figure in connection to money laundering.
According to the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau, Chau stands accused of “opening casinos in China” and running cross-border gambling through his subsidiary, Suncity Gaming Promotion Company Limited. The Bureau stated that as of July 2020, Chau’s illegal gambling ring had 199 shareholder-level agents, more than 12,000 gambling agents, and over 80,000 customers.
‘Harbinger of death’
A UN spokesman has said Chau’s arrest “will send shockwaves through organized crime in Hong Kong and Macau.” Macau-based gambling consultant Carlos Lobo has taken the same line. The former legal aide to the Macau Gaming Commission said he believes the fallout from the Chau arrest is the “harbinger of death of the junket system in Macau.”
The market is responding as expected. China-facing political analyst Nathan Attrill took to Twitter last week to report shares plummeting in relation to companies connected to Suncity:
The Suncity group’s stock fell 48% on November 30 to an all-time low, valuing the group at HK$880m ($113m). Added to this, Suncity’s game promoter license expires December 31, with the decision to renew it in the hands of the Macau government.
Challenges for incoming CEO
In related news, Macao News has reported that Craig Billings will take over command of Wynn Macau from Matt Maddox on January 31.
Assuming the reigns from industry veteran Maddox represents a major challenge for the incoming CEO, who’s set for an initial three-year tenure. Along with the predicted job cuts associated with the rumored permanent VIP room closures, the High Court last month also deemed Wynn Macau jointly accountable for the debts of the VIP rooms it hosted.