segunda-feira, 4 de maio de 2009

Casinos e justiça privada

Legal issues cited as problem in high-end gambling segment

Neil Gough
South China Morning Post
May 4, 2009

Inadequate regulation in Macau and loopholes in mainland law are partly to blame for criminal behaviour stemming from Macau's junket-dominated VIP gambling segment, according to a report.

A total of 151 firms and individuals were officially registered as junket operators in Macau as of the end of last year. But a report on Macau's VIP junkets commissioned by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and obtained by the South China Morning Post cited previously undisclosed official estimates that 10,000 individuals may be involved in the junket business.

"At some point you have to ask if the junket-licensing system is really doing what it was intended to do, or if it is really just window dressing," one industry insider said.

The report said gaps in the mainland's legal system allowed money to be moved and gambling debts to be collected via ties between junket operators and triads.

The US consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group's report, which was completed in April last year, said: "Because the court system in China cannot be used to resolve gaming-debt issues, as is the case in almost all other jurisdictions, the collection of gaming debt is left to the junket operator to resolve.

Junket operators are the middlemen who bring high rollers to casinos, issue them credit to gamble and collect debts.

The report estimates 4,000 junket "collaborators" are registered with the government.

But registration falls far short of licensing, and the report said the term collaborator was "less than clear" as it may apply to a wide range of interests or individuals, including "junket operators, sub junkets, loan sharks and tip hustlers".

Casino revenue in Macau grew 31 per cent to 108.77 billion patacas last year, overtaking the Las Vegas Strip and Atlantic City combined. But despite the opening of glitzy and more tourist-oriented casinos in Macau, the junket-dominated VIP gambling segment accounted for 67.8 per cent of total revenue last year.

"The Hong Kong VIP market is the second-most-important market in Macau and has been increasing, but not nearly as rapidly as the [mainland] Chinese market," the Spectrum report said. It estimated Macau's revenue from Hongkongers at HK$13.5 billion, or 25 per cent of total VIP revenue in 2007. That calculation was based on the fact that 25 per cent of arrivals in Macau came from Hong Kong during the year.

But "Hong Kong probably accounts for a higher proportion of Macau's VIP revenue because people have higher ratios of disposable income than on the mainland, and because gaming debt is legally enforceable in Hong Kong," the insider said.

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