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ASIA & OCEANIA


China Criminalises Casino Promotions


China’s National Congress is considering making it a criminal offence for overseas gambling operations to target Chinese citizens with their promotions and offers


China’s National Congress is considering making it a criminal offence for overseas gambling operations to target Chinese citizens with their promotions and offers, but analysts remain unsure as to whether this would include casinos in Macau.


Te Congress wants to criminalise the ‘organisation and solicitation of casinos abroad,’ with currently unspecified punishments for companies or individuals trying to attract Chinese players. China’s highest legislature, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, has begun its 22nd session, with the overseas gambling amendments high on their agenda.


Te Director-General of China’s Ministry of Public Security International Cooperation Department, Liao Jinrong, has said that RMB1tn (US$145.5bn) in gambling spend leaves China each year. But there is a lot of confusion amongst industry observers as to whether


Macau


Lack of 'last minute, spontaneous' trips by Chinese visitors is slowing Macau's recovery


Union Gaming is putting back its recovery timeline for Macau’s gaming sector after failing to see strong signs of an improvement in revenues. Macau’s mass market baccarat was up to MOP$1.88bn (US$235m) in the three months to September 30 2020, marking a 77.4 per cent improvement on the quarter before.


Despite GGR across all segments improving by 53 per cent compared to the second quarter to MOP$5.08bn (US$636.1m), they were still down 92.8 per cent on the third quarter of 2019.


Analyst John DeCree said: “Currently, there’s too much friction for a large scale recovery in visitation. Although visas are available, the online/automated process is not. Travelers need to apply in person and processing times can take up to two weeks.


On top of that, travelers to Macau still need to present a current (seven days) negative nucleic acid test. Tis makes last minute, spontaneous, or frequent trips impractical. Macau authorities are considering extending the validity of a negative test to 14 days, which should be moderately helpful.” Mr. DeCree added that liquidity and VIP junket business remain a problem for Macau’s casinos. Te first 18 days of October generated an average of MOP$222m per day (US$27.8m), up 200 per cent on September’s average.


Klebanow Consulting Principal Andrew Klebanow said he remained ‘less than optimistic about Macau.’ He believes Macau's revenue won't return to pre-pandemic levels until there is a safe and effective vaccine, which he doesn't see happening until sometime in 2022.


Macau will be included in the crackdown. Ben Lee, founder of Macau gaming consultancy IGamiX, said: "Te crackdown on the cross border transactions have finally rammed home the inconvenient fact that Macau has always been dependent on outflow of funds from the mainland.”


Bernstein analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu however don't believe the mainland government was referring to Macau.


“Macau is never discussed in terms of ‘overseas’ or ‘foreign’ as Macau is part of Te People’s Republic of China and Macau has a legal casino market that supports much of the city’s economy and provides much of the government’s revenue,” they said.


Union Gaming’s John DeCree added: “China has once again taken aim at junkets and offshore gambling … Macau likely doesn’t count as offshore gambling.”


Macau


Fitch ratings agency has given MGM China and MGM International’s US$750m public offering a negative outlook, reflecting the ‘risks and uncertainty the global gaming industry is facing from the pandemic,’ adding that it believes revenues at MGM's Macau casinos will be 19 per cent down year-on-year. MGM intends to use the net proceeds from the offering of the Notes for general corporate purposes, which could include refinancing existing indebtedness. Pending such use, the company may invest the net proceeds in short- term interest-bearing accounts, securities or similar investments. “Te successful execution of this upsized offering at a favorable rate further solidifies our financial flexibility and demonstrates the continued confidence our investors have in our long-term business outlook,” said Corey Sanders, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of MGM Resorts Int.


RUSSIA – Suncity Group Holdings has said it now has 'every reason to drive businesses in Summit Ascent' after increasing its stake in the owner of Tigre de Cristal in Russia from approximately 24.74 per cent to approximately 69.66 per cent via a rights issue.


Since the grand opening of Tigre de Cristal in November 2015, Tigre de Cristal has a track record of delivering strong local businesses in the past, thanks to the solid contributions by its local mass and slots businesses.


When travel restrictions normalise, the brand-new Suncity VIP room will be unveiled, a first time for Summit Ascent shareholders to leverage on Suncity’s experience and its vast gaming network and database. Given the proximity of Vladivostok to major Asian tourism markets such as South Korea and Japan, Suncity will help to target South Korean and Japanese tourists to Tigre de Cristal.


Suncity is confident of the long-term prospects of Summit Ascent. Not only does the gaming licence granted by the Russian government lasts for an indefinite period of time, but also Tigre de Cristal benefits from lower gaming tax than other gaming jurisdictions, such as Macau. This means that there is a lot of room for Tigre de Cristal to offer attractive rebates, as well as the potential to capture these rebates with the help of Suncity to set up a Direct VIP business line.


In addition, Summit Ascent’s financial stability as a cash-rich, zero-debt listed company allows Summit Ascent to plan, build and operate Tigre de Cristal Phase II with utmost confidence.


Summit Ascent possesses the development rights on two adjacent parcels of land, namely Lot 9 and Lot 10, in the Integrated Entertainment Zone in the Primorye region. Summit Ascent is currently refining the design and construction elements of the Phase II development on Lot 10. Phase II development will double the number of existing gaming tables and slot machines, significantly sizing up the lodging capacity of the existing property, as well as adding novel entertainment concepts such as new restaurants, bars, retail shops, an indoor beach club and convention space.


Chau Cheok Wa, Suncity and Summit Ascent Chairman, said: “I am thrilled to see a second up- and-running integrated resort under Suncity in the year of 2020, amidst suboptimal business environment. I am amazed by the determination for Suncity to grow across Asia, and my team is executing my vision one step at a time. Gradually we are paving the way for Suncity to be a leading integrated resort operator and developer in Asia.”


NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA P27


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