Former Macau Junket Investor Eyes Cambodia’s Casino Market

With Macau’s junket market shrinking considerably over the past few years, Century Entertainment International Holdings Ltd, a former Macau junket investor, has set its sights on a new target. It announced Monday that it’s going to conduct gaming operations at a casino in Dara Sakor, Cambodia.

An aerial view of Dara Sakor, Cambodia
An aerial view of Dara Sakor, Cambodia. A former Macau junket promoter is going to operate gambling tables at a casino in the city. (Image: Global Times)

Century said it’s signed a five-year agreement to operate eight tables at the casino. It’s a deal that didn’t need a lot of massaging, as the casino’s owner is Ng Man Sun, Century’s chairman and CEO, who needed to fill a financial void.

The casino was previously in Sihanoukville, which has become a target of Cambodian authorities looking to crack down on illegal gambling. Prior to the increased attention, the casino relocated to Dara Sakor, a China-backed investment zone.

The Revival of Junkets

Century, previously Amax International Holdings, will pay HK$58 million (US$7.38 million) for the eight tables, per a company filing. Ng and Century’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Victor Mind Global Limited, are covering the cost as a means to offset profit guarantees stipulated in a prior arrangement they made in 2019.

Century explained that the previous agreement included guarantees that weren’t attainable because of COVID-19 and Ng’s decision to relocate the casino. As a result, the contract provided compensation to the company, and the price point for the new contract wipes the slate clean.

Century will operate eight gaming tables for the mass market, with a primary focus on baccarat. The company will be able to keep all of the winnings, but will also have to be responsible for all of the losses.

The casino was in Sihanoukville’s Sunshine Bay Hotel before its relocation. In 2020, Century held discussions about a crosstown relocation. That’s before Ng decided to move it to a new casino in Dara Sakor.

The new property, in an area being revitalized by local and Chinese investments, is meant to house 20 mass gaming tables, 25 VIP tables, and 50 slots. It also includes a Chinese restaurant, a spa, and a nightclub. It’s located in an area that is getting a new international airport and tourist attractions. However, completion of the project is taking longer than forecasts predicted.

Initially slated to open in 2021, progress toward completion is still underway.

Cambodia No Longer on the FATF’s Bad Side

The announcement of the new deal follows soon after Cambodia received some good news from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The country’s efforts to clean up its gaming and financial ecosystems are paying off.

Last Friday, the FATF announced that Cambodia, as well as Morocco, were no longer on its grey list. The global financial watchdog determined that the two countries had made strides in implementing standard anti-money laundering (AML) practices, and no longer had to be on the list.

This doesn’t mean Cambodia and Morocco are in the clear, though. The FATF will continue to work with them and monitor their activity to ensure that don’t slip into their old ways.

The Philippines and Gibraltar weren’t so lucky. Both will remain on the grey list until June, when the FATF makes its next assessment. The Philippines has been on and off the list several times over the past 10 years, while Gibraltar found itself added last June.

The FATF is made up of representatives from more than 200 countries, all focused on developing standardized financial and AML practices. That group got a little smaller last week as well.

Russia is no longer a member after the FATF suspended it last week. The country’s invasion of Ukraine  led to the decision.

Russia expressed its dissatisfaction with the move, warning that it could have dire consequences. Anatoly Antonov, the country’s ambassador to the US, called it a “dangerous step.” He added that it will “erode global efforts to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

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