Junket operators look abroad: Tony Tong

Anti-corruption policies and the ban on proxy betting has forced local junkets to expand into other gaming markets, says junket expert Tony Tong.

Mr. Tong, an advisor of AGB and vice chairman of Macau Gaming Information Association (MGIA) made the comments in an interview with Calvin Ayre.

Tong said the most successful junket operators have made bold decisions to expand outside of Macau in search for revenues.

“They’re evolving, the junket operators. If they are sitting still in Macau, they will see declining revenue,” Tong said. “But there are many aggressive junkets. They have a lot of financial resources, they want to grow so they are going to Jeju island, Saipan, and Southeast Asia.”

An example, Tong noted, was Imperial Pacific, a junket firm turned casino operator in Saipan.

“In Saipan, Imperial Pacific acquired its own casino license, it started with some junket business in Macau but now they are now officially licensed casino operators in the US territory,” he said. “And, as we all know, many of this places offer both online and offline, so there’s an O to O combination. Here in the Philippines it’s very popular, the land based casinos putting cameras, they provide video streaming, they provide telephone betting, and video streaming from casinos, which is not allowed in Macau.”

Chinese tourists are also now more inclined to travel abroad, added Tong, increasing to around 120 million visitors per year.

Macau, however has put in place restrictions to around 30 million per year, which will make it difficult for the gaming hub to capture the opportunities.

“So within the next year or two, I don’t see a big increase in the number of visitors who is going to enter Macau, but overall the Chinese people are becoming wealthier, and their appetite for travelling abroad is increasing very rapidly, they are looking for sunshine, beautiful beaches. So places like Boracay, or Saipan, or Vietnam, or Danang, this kind of place will be a good place to heal,” Tong said.