Saturday, September 24, 2022

Philippines Gaming Regulator Nixes Suncity Junket License

The Philippines’ gaming regulator has suspended Suncity Group from operating junkets in the country. It’s the latest blow to a company reeling from a major global shakeup of its operations.

Suncity Group continues to find itself on the receiving end of bad news. It is losing a tremendous amount of traction in Macau, as the city seeks to cut ties with junkets. The problem is amplified by the arrest of its former CEO, Alvin Chau.

The company now finds itself dealing with more problems. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), the Philippines’ gaming regulator and casino operator, is cutting Suncity off.

Suncity Hit by Suspension in the Philippines

PAGCOR has suspended Suncity’s ability to operate junkets in the Philippines, according to GGRAsia. Citing an email it received from the regulator, the media outlet reports that Suncity and Chau are “unsuitable to hold any authority/license to operate a junket business” in the country.

The regulator reportedly began investigating Suncity and its Suncity Group Manila subsidiary last August after receiving complaints about the company’s operations. Suncity’s treatment of deposited funds and the failure to return them to customers led to the investigation.

PAGCOR received two complaints last year that accused Suncity of potentially misappropriating money. Some 29 people included their names in the list, arguing that they were out a total of $57.9 million. PAGCOR then launched an investigation, which it concluded last month. However, it didn’t present the findings until this week.

In acknowledging that Suncity had gaming operations in several casinos operated by PAGCOR, including at Entertainment City in Manila, PAGCOR stated that it found evidence to support the complaints. It added, “In fact, to date, the front money deposits remain unreturned,” despite the victims seeking mediation.

As a result of the investigation, Suncity must return all of the front money deposits within a month of the order. However, the ability to do so is likely becoming increasingly difficult.

Suspended, but Not Out

Suncity has one path at redemption in the Philippines if it wants to avoid a permanent revocation of its license. PAGCOR has laid out several conditions that the company must meet, and if it doesn’t, there’s no alternative than an exit from the country.

Returning the front money is an obvious requirement. In addition, Suncity will have to place all of its clients’ front money into a separate bank account going forward. This account cannot be used for any business operations. Additionally, Suncity cannot withdraw any money from the account unless it is going to turn it over to the client.

Suncity will also need to submit a sworn quarterly statement showing how much front money it has on deposit, along with a balance statement from the bank. A special monitoring team will oversee the reporting.

If the company fails to meet the conditions, or any other conditions, such as anti-money laundering requirements, it’s game over. Suncity and Chau will be blacklisted and deemed “permanently unsuitable” to operate a junket in the Philippines.

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