Asia Casino

Asia Casino

January 10, 2022

Dismantle to Rebuild

In 1986, Stanley Ho invited Madam Szeto Yuk Lin to return from Manila where she was running a Pai Gow VIP room, to set up Lisboa’s first junket room with the promise that she would be the only one

The number of officially licensed junkets peaked at 235 in 2013 with actual numbers exceeding that as there was a huge number of unlicensed junkets operating under handshake agreements with the licensed ones. With the successive introduction of stricter licensing regimes as well as more onerous administrative burdens, the number of sanctioned operators steadily dropped over the years, finishing at 85 at the beginning of 2021.

The top three, Suncity, Tak Chun and Guangdong made up the bulk of VIP rolling. In 2018, they generated roughly 78-79% of the casinos’ VIP revenue, growing to the low 80s in 2019 and ending at the low 90s in 3Q2021.

In short, the advent of tighter regulations and enhanced probity resulted in consolidation of this industry segment, with more influence and economic power being concentrated in a small handful of junkets.

At that time, this was actually seen as a good thing, as the top junket operators were better organized and well resourced, with the ability to meet all the new paperwork burdens that were instituted by the DICJ under its then new director, Paulo Martins Chan.