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Crown inquiry told Macau junkets connected to organized crime

The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s probe of Crown Resorts heard testimony on Monday from a gaming expert who contends that there are links between Macau’s junket industry and organized crime, and that Australia’s regulation of junkets was weaker than many other jurisdictions.

Paul Bromberg of Spectrum Asia, testifying by video link from Thailand, stated that Macau junkets had “essential” ties with organized crime: “It’s for the security of cash during transportations, it's bodyguards for their VIP clients… it's the provision of prostitution to their clients, it’s for narcotics and other vice services, and the cross-border transportation of cash from China as well as... debt collection.”

Bromberg made clear his view that these characteristics applied to Suncity Group Holdings, one of the focuses of the probe, and the fact that Macau registered junket operators or that Suncity is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange should come as “little comfort” because probity checks and enforcement ranged from weak to nonexistent in both cases.

In Australia’s case, casinos are merely required to notify the state casino authorities if they are using junkets, but all probity checks have been handled by the casinos themselves, who don’t have access to law enforcement data and, in any case, have a potential conflict of interest.

The probe, headed by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, has been established to assess whether Crown Resort should keep its license to run an A$2.2 billion (US$1.5 billion) Sydney harborside gaming development.

Asia Gaming Brief is a news and intelligence service providing up to date market information for worldwide executives on relevant gaming issues in Asia.

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