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MACAU CASINOS & their strong links to organised crime - ABC 4 Corners - Sep 2014

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Published on Sep 18, 2014

Just why does the Gold Coast mayor Tom Tate seem so attracted and fixated on the idea of turning our broadwater and the Gold Coast into another Macau style foreign-owned casino city? He wants five casinos and has travelled to meet with casino big wigs in Macau and Las Vegas, hoping to do deals to attract operators here. There might be money in casinos, but for who? And at what risk?

ABC Four Corners lifts the lid on the dark truth behind the direct links between organised crime and the casino industry in Macau, and the strong presence of mafia control and high-level criminal activity that has been evidently born of the gambling town's lust for the lights and bells of casino establishments. The ABC report sends an ominous warning to Australians about the risks associated with foreign casino operators and the concept of more casinos in Australia.

We assume Tom Tate has also investigated this side of the industry and given it appropriate consideration - we hope so.

FROM ABC: Australian casinos that target Asian VIP gamblers to boost their profits could run a serious risk of exposure to organised crime, according to a range of law enforcement and security experts.

This week on Four Corners, reporter Linton Besser investigates the drive to entice foreign gamblers to Australia and the implications of that strategy.

Running casinos can be a lucrative business. It's estimated that the industry here generates around five billion dollars a year. Much of that money comes from ordinary Australians, but increasingly companies that run casinos are seeking to boost their profits by attracting high rollers, particularly from China. VIP players are willing to bet hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single wager.

These big gamblers are often brought to the casino by companies called junkets. In Asia's gambling epicentre of Macau, off the coast of China, they locate, transport and provide credit for the gamblers, and they have made local casino operators enormously wealthy. However, until recently Australia has only had a slender share of the VIP market.

Now Crown, led by James Packer, has won approval to develop a six star hotel and casino complex at Barangaroo on the shores of Sydney Harbour. And this casino will cater solely to VIP players.

Who are these high-rollers? Where do they get their money? And who is profiting from the junkets that bring them here?

In Macau, the junket operators are major companies, with some listed on the stock exchange. Despite this, there is evidence that some have links to organised crime.

In part, those links to criminals have been boosted by the fact that gambling is illegal in mainland China, and there is a limit to the amount of money high rollers can take out of the country. The fact that Chinese VIPs gamble on credit - which cannot be legally enforced in the mainland - can invite debt collection via extra-judicial means.

As one gambling expert told the program:

"They turn to organised crime to enforce gambling debts, using violence or threats of violence."

The question is, how do Australian casino operators like Crown get the benefits of the junket industry but keep out the criminals? Those who know the gambling industry say it's very difficult:

"That's easier, much easier said than done, because if the casino is totally focused on upper end VIP only, then that appeals to a small, a certain element, and that is difficult." - Gambling expert

This leaves any casino operator relying on VIPs with a problem. It leaves governments with a problem too. Organised crime has found a home in Macau. Will it look for more opportunities here?

Source - http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/storie...

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