THE M3: LVS FEDERAL SUIT RESOLVED; SJM SLOT PARLOR; GONGBEI TRAFFIC; VIETNAM

THE MACAU METRO MONITOR, AUGUST 28, 2013

LVS TO PAY $47.4MM TO SETTLE FED PROBE AP

LVS has agreed to pay $47.4 million after failing to flag millions of dollars in money transfers made by a gambler linked to drug trafficking.  In return, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles will not seek an indictment against LVS.  The deal, finalized late Monday, also brings the government's criminal investigation to a close, but requires LVS to boost its efforts to monitor suspicious financial transactions for the next two years.

The investigation centered on Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon, which prosecutors describe as a high-stakes player who gambled at several major casinos, including the Venetian between 2004 and 2007.  In that period, Ye Gon lost more than $125 million at multiple casinos, including $84 million at the Venetian, according to the settlement agreement filed by prosecutors.  Ye Gon's Venetian losses also included $36.5 million in credit that the casino advanced to him and that was later written off as bad debt.

Investigators concluded that LVS failed to comply with a federal law requiring casinos report suspicious financial transactions involving customers.

SJM'S SLOT MACHINE PARLOR TO BE REMOVED IN NOVEMBER Macau Daily News

SJM Holdings executive director Angela Leong said that the group has always abided by the government policy and their slot machines parlors in residential areas will be removed gradually.  Leong said that the slot parlor in Canidrome will be moved in November.  She stressed that the company will relocate gaming facilities affecting citizens, but the evacuation cannot be accomplished in one go as the company needs time to make changes on the operations side, such as human resources issues.

MORE PASSENGERS COMING THROUGH GONGBEI BORDER Macau Daily News

Gongbei immigration recorded a historical high at 320,000 border crossings on a single day yesterday with summer holiday coming to an end soon, and Hengqin port also recorded a daily high of over 220,000 border crossing.  Gongbei checkpoint said that since last month, it has eight consecutive weekends that break the single-day traffic 300,000 record.

VIETNAM DOES U-TURN ON CASINO BAN FOR LOCALS; WILL INVESTORS BITE?  Thanh Nien News

In a surprise twist, Vietnam’s top leadership has given the green light for locals to enter one of the country’s casinos for a trial period.  The Communist Party’s decision-making Politburo has allowed Vietnamese meeting certain criteria to gamble in a casino to be built in the Van Don Economic Zone in Quang Ninh Province bordering China, deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, said at a meeting of the house Standing Committee held August 15 to debate a bill on betting and gambling.  But since last year the government has been saying that this issue is off the table, even enacting a law last month to slap fines of up to VND200 million ($9,500) on casinos who let locals in.

Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung maintained that position at the August 15 meeting, saying the ban needs to be in place to limit the impact of gambling on social safety and stability. But, given the entrenched gambling culture in the country, the ban on entering casinos at home sends droves of Vietnamese across the border into Cambodia to gamble in casinos there.

It is not clear, however, when the full house will debate the bill on betting and gambling and approve it.  Of the licensed casinos, four are in the north – one each in Lao Cai and Quang Ninh provinces bordering China – enabling Vietnam to pull in increasingly affluent Chinese gamblers, experts say.  But they otherwise remain skeptical about the locations of the northern casinos, which they say are not convenient for international visitors.