Sands may be working with less Macau Casino Junkets

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The Las Vegas Sands Corp. is carefully examining their relationship with Macau gambling junkets in an effort to cut ties with any shady businesses.

As some people know, gambling junkets are middlemen who bring wealthy high rollers from mainland China to Macau – a service that accounts for two-thirds of the casino mecca’s revenue. However, Sands wants to ensure that they’re not working with any junkets that are also tied up in money laundering and other nefarious activities. So they’re asking junkets to provide more information about their companies, a move that’s likely to reduce the number of junkets that Sands works with.

Bloomberg reports that the company’s sudden scrutiny of junkets has to do with demands by U.S. prosecutors and regulators who want to prevent money laundering. Of course, the downside to complying with these demands is that the casino empire risks alienating both Chinese high rollers and Macau gaming regulators.

On the other hand, Sands, which owns the Venetian Macao, Sands Cotai and Sands Macao, is one of the more independent operations in the former Portuguese colony. They now dedicate more resources and manpower towards attracting high rollers on their own, meaning they would likely be alright with reduced help from junkets.

Despite Sands’ budding independence from junket businesses, many of Macau’s other 33 casinos rely heavily on junkets to bring them business. These middlemen lend money to wealthy Chinese gamblers, set their trips up, and collect debts afterward.

However, junkets have come under fire in recent years for being involved in a number of illegal activities. It’s rumored that many in Macau have turned a blind eye towards this as long as the money keeps flowing in. But Sands doesn’t have the same option because they’ve been under the microscope lately. Last August, the U.S. Department of Justice forced them to forfeit $47 million in profits from a high-stakes Las Vegas gambler who was linked to international drug trafficking. Now it appears that they’re taking precautions in Macau to ensure that another incident like this doesn’t repeat itself.

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