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THE M3: FRANCIS TAM ON TABLES; SANDS SMOKING BAN; MGM COTAI; SJM WAGES; TAIWAN LAUNDERING

The Macau Metro Monitor, January 10, 2013

FRANCIS TAM EXPECTS LIMITED INCREASE OF GAMING TABLES BY 2015 Macau Daily Times, Macau Business

Secretary Tam said that although new resorts have been approved by the government in recent months, it would take some time before they are constructed, and he expects the growth of new gaming tables to be very limited up to 2015.  The government has set an annual growth ceiling at 3% for the coming 10 years.  Tam said the new tables being granted by the government will mainly be allocated to the newly opened larger casino-resorts that are complying with the authority’s strategy for diversification towards more non-gaming business such as Sands Cotai Central and Galaxy.  In reference to the 3% growth of new tables for this year, Tam said the authority would grant them to the five casino-resorts on Cotai in proportion to their non-gaming business. 

Yesterday, Sands China's COO David Sisk said he expects to get 200 new gaming tables allotted to Sands Cotai Central casino resort within the first quarter of 2013.

SANDS EXECUTIVE SAYS SMOKING AREA ALLOCATION "APPROPRIATE" Macau Daily Times

Sands COO David Sisk said, “We follow what the government asked us to do, in terms of allocating between 50% of our smoking space and 50% of our non-smoking casino space, so we followed what the government told us to do.  The government came in and evaluated and approved; both the DICJ and the health department were involved in the measures.  We felt we’ve done the appropriate thing. We’re comfortable with how we’ve allocated our tables and slots, and we believe we did it in the best business interests of our company, as well as the interests of our employees… I can’t speak for what the other [casinos] did, but I think they probably did appropriately as well,” Sisk said.  “We took the appropriate actions for our employees and for our business. Whether that meant that there may be more tables in one area or another, I don’t think that is the real issue for us,” he continued. 

MGM CHINA PROFITS TO DOUBLE WITH COTAI CASINO: JIM MURREN Macau Business

MGM CEO Jim Murren says that the profits of MGM China are set to more than double once the gaming operator opens a casino resort in Cotai.  He also said that he forecasts Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue to rise by mid-to-high double digits in 2013.

MGM China CEO Grant Bowie said the company hopes to make an announcement on the construction timetable “within the next six to eight weeks”.  Bowie said the company was currently liaising with the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau to organize the necessary permissions to start construction.  “Once we get our building approvals, the next phase will be to make a full announcement on the whole development and the branding of the project,” he said.

SJM HOLDINGS TO RAISE WAGES: ANGELA LEONG Macau Business
Angela Leong On Kei, executive director of SJM said the company would raise its employees’ wages as soon as it is approved by SJM's shareholders.  Last year, SJM increased its staff wages between 5-10% – the percentage of the increase was based on salaries, with employees with lower salaries getting higher raises.

TAIWAN PROBES ILLEGAL MONEY TRANSFER FOR MACAU CASINOS SCMP

Taiwanese prosecutors said they were investigating a locally-based Hong Kong firm for allegedly carrying out huge money transfers for use in Macau casinos, circumventing strict forex rules.  The company, which opened in Taiwan in 2009, allegedly accepted deposits by Taiwanese gamblers allowing them to withdraw the money once they were in Macau, said the Taipei district prosecutors’ office.  Prosecutors, who declined to identify the firm, said they suspected it was behind a total of US$179 million in illegal transactions.

The head of the company was questioned on Wednesday on suspicion of violating Taiwanese law, which stipulates only banks are allowed to handle domestic and international money transfers, it said in a statement.