Article: Macao gambling group retreats from Japan bid amid controversies

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Macao gambling group retreats from Japan bid amid controversies

ZACH COLEMAN, 23 May 2021

HONG KONG — Suncity Group, the Macao-based gambling company, has pulled out of the running for rights to run a casino resort in Japan.

The group is the biggest junket agency in Macao, bringing in high rollers from China and other countries to wager millions in VIP rooms it operates inside other companies’ casinos in the world’s largest betting hub and elsewhere. Through listed arm Suncity Group Holdings, it also runs its own casino resorts near Hoi An, Vietnam and Vladivostok, Russia and is building another in Manila’s Entertainment City gambling zone.

Suncity hoped to add Japan to its portfolio, targeting Wakayama Prefecture near Osaka, though the region has not been seen as a top contender to host one of Japan’s first three legal casino gaming venues, to be known as integrated resorts.

To raise its profile in the country, Suncity has sponsored a professional sailing team and is developing holiday resorts in the skiing center of Niseko and on Okinawa’s subtropical Miyako Island.

In a May 12 statement about its retreat on the group’s Japanese website, Suncity Chairman Alvin Chau highlighted the uncertain outlook for the gaming sector.

“We have decided to make a strict decision after careful consideration, considering the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the industry,” he said. “The fact that many matters are still unclear in Japan’s IR (integrated resort) zone certification process, which is expected to take much longer than originally planned, has also added extra risk.”

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