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Asia round-up: China detects 42,000 cases of illegal gambling; SkyCity & Studio City

China’s MPS detects 42,000 cases of cross-border gambling over three years

China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has said 42,000 cases of cross-border gambling have been detected between 1 January 2020 and 31 March 2022.

The MPS has made significant efforts to crack down on illegal operations during this period, recovering a total of RMB190.5bn ($28.3m) in economic losses.

The figures come from Li Bei, who spoke of MPS efforts in a recent online press conference.

Alongside detecting up to 42,000 cases of illegal cross-border gambling, Li claimed that the MPS has also eliminated 6,066 online gambling platforms while solving 24,000 economic crimes relating to gambling.

Furthermore, an additional 2,825 cross-regional criminal syndicates have been destroyed, according to Li.

Several illegal cases have been identified as having ties with P2P loan platforms, which have been identified as conduits for illegal activity.

Special organisations have been targeting cross-border gambling in a bid to annihilate underground money markets.

The MPS has also had an established blacklist of overseas tourist destinations, in a bid to disrupt the outbound tourism market by prohibiting travel from mainland China.

Most recently, Macau’s junket industry has been decimated following a string of high-profile arrests, such as Suncity’s CEO Alvin Chau and Levo Chan of Tak Chun Group

SkyCity secures debt covenant relief

SkyCity Entertainment has secured debt covenant waivers from its banking syndicate and US private placement holders for both the 30 June 2022 and 31 December 2022 testing periods.

These waivers have been signed in addition to previously agreed amended debt covenants for the 30 June 2022 testing period.

SkyCity has secured this additional covenant “as a matter of prudence” to provide it with contingency in the event of a further short-term material disruption caused by Covid-19.

The debt release comes despite SkyCity’s New Zealand casino being able to operate restriction-free through April, with travel restrictions in New Zealand easing.

SkyCity has noted its appreciation of the support provided by shareholders and financiers, as it continues to navigate the impact of Covid disruptions.

During the extension of debt covenant relief, SkyCity will be unable to make distributions to shareholders or secure additional debt facilities.

The casino operator has noted its commitment to its dividend policy despite the extension and hopes to resume its financial distributions as soon as possible.

Operating restrictions at its Australian Adelaide casino continue to be relaxed, meaning further scope for greater revenue numbers is surely likely soon.

Studio City’s Macau expansion plans receive six-month extension

The Macau Government has granted Studio City a six-month extension to the operator’s deadline to complete Phase Two of its cinema-themed resort expansion.

Having initially been slated for a late December completion date (27 December 2022), the deadline has now been pushed to 30 June 2023.

Studio City is a unit of Melco Resorts & Entertainment; it has spent in the region of $721.5m to develop its cinema-themed IR to date, with a total budget projected to be in the region of $1.2bn.

Phase Two of Studio City is expected to feature modern interpretations of Art Deco while offering large water parks and a Cineplex.


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