The central government clearly is not going to let up on Macau’s junkets. While the Greater Bay Area plan is pushing more mass-market tourists through Macau, Beijing is pursuing the offshore online-gaming operations run by groups widely believed to be tied to junket operators – although most deny any links to the activity.
Cambodia recently announced it would crack down. The Philippines also said it would stop taking new applications. But that is apparently not enough for the Ministry of Public Security, which sees the online-gaming operations – and their associated money-laundering networks – as threats to national security. Now, the central government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on Manila to ban the operations outright.
As reported by GGRAsia: “POGOs [online operators] are said to have been expanding aggressively in the Philippines, with currently 58 licensed such operators in the country, and three others awaiting licences. Many of these operations specifically target Chinese customers.”
Timing is obviously an issue. The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, and Chinese President Xi Jinping are poised to discuss the issue during a meeting later this month.
The news comes just as official data shows Macau’s tourism industry to be in good health, with visitor numbers up 16.3% YoY in July to 3.53 million. Mainland tourists were up 18.5%, with most growth coming from the nine GBA cities inside Guangdong (+27.5%).
However, data also showed that non-gaming spend by visitors is declining. In Q2, they spent MOP15.71 billion, excluding gaming expenses, down 4.8% year-on-year. Shopping remained the largest single-category, at 44.8% of total outlay.
Read more on GGRAsia.