THE M3: NEPTUNE TIE TO BO XILAI; MGM COTAI; PANSY HO COMMENTS

The Macau Metro Monitor, February 28, 2013

JUNKET OPERATOR NEPTUNE GROUP LINKED TO BO XILAI CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS CalvinAyre.com

Neptune’s name has surfaced in connection with Bo Xilai.  Bo, who remains in custody awaiting his own trial, has been identified as having financial links to Lian Zhuozhao aka Lin Cheuk Chiu, the brother of Neptune chairman Lin Cheuk Fung.  Chinese magazine Caijing claimed Lian was the real power behind Neptune and that Lian had helped numerous high-profile individuals launder money through underground banks.

Caijing claimed that Lian – dubbed “the king of gambling on the high seas” for his former role in running Neptune's casino-cruise line operations – had alleged ties to a number of prominent figures currently residing in Chinese jails.  Caijing now reports that Bo Xilai, his wife Gu Kailai and assorted family members are being investigated over alleged ties to VIP gaming rooms linked with Lian.

Given that the Caijing story has been widely republished amid a variety of Chinese media, including acknowledged pro-Beijing newspapers, it seems Beijing is indeed trying to send a message ahead of incoming Party boss Xi Jinping’s official first day in office next month, but that message may be directed at corrupt officials more than junket operators.

MGM CHINA STARTS CONSTRUCTION IN COTAI Macau Business

It will include 1,600 hotel rooms, as many as 500 gaming tables and 2,500 slot machines.  It is scheduled to open in mid-2016.

GAMING INDUSTRY EXPECTS ADJUSTMENT IN VIP/MASS MARKET RATIO, SAYS PANSY HO Macau Daily Times

MGM China's Pansy Ho said she believe the adjustment of VIP/mass ratio is a positive sign: “The gaming industry is expecting an adjustment in the ratio due to more facilities offered by casino-resorts. VIP has been growing much faster than the mass section but we can see a tendency that the discrepancy is narrowing and this is a positive development.... It doesn’t mean the VIP market will experience sudden changes (drops), but it’s not expected to maintain double-digit expansion.”  She expects a faster growing pace by the mass market as casino-resorts continue to add more non-gaming elements into their business portfolio.

She believed the new project would not have serious problems finding croupiers to operate despite the fact that several major projects are starting up in the Cotai area in coming years.  She expected the industry to coordinate in securing human resources. For the project as a whole, she estimated that 5,000 – 6,000 workers will be needed after its completion in 2016. 

Pansy Ho did not comment on Beijing’s new leadership, reportedly taking tougher actions against Macau junket operators in order to prevent mainland officials or criminals from coming to the city and using the casinos for money-laundering purposes. She stressed that these are mere news reports so far and that there’s been no clear indication or assertion by the (central) government on possible controls.