Tak Chun to Open Its VIP Gaming Club at Revamped Londoner Macau

Image by Macau Photo Agency
Article by : Helen Feb 25, 2021

It is official now: Tak Chun Group, a junket operator based in Macau, is opening a VIP gaming club at the Londoner Macau. The scheduled launch day is February 8, on the same day as the hotel’s first phase of opening. The junket operator’s representative confirmed the earlier rumors on the matter to the GGRAsia news outlet.

Operated by Sands China Ltd. and located on the Cotai Strip, the Londoner Macau – which used to be Sands Cotai Central before its rebranding and renovation – will open its doors to guests in several phases throughout this year.

Before the Londoner’s predecessor, Sands Cotai Central, was closed for renovations, Tak Chun had a VIP gaming club operating there. The junket operator “suspended” its operations due to a COVID-induced slump in occupancy. However, Londoner’s VIP club will be “brand-new,” according to Tak Chun’s comments for GGRAsia.

The venue will include a hotel with around 600 luxury suites (with 14 of them designed by Sands’ ambassador David Beckham), five “London-inspired” restaurants, a shopping mall with more than 150 high-end boutiques, and a multi-purpose Londoner Arena with 6 thousand seats.

The Londoner’s opening is set right before the Lunar (Chinese) New Year, from February 12 to February 26 this year. It traditionally sets off a surge in traveling, but this year the authorities in Macau and mainland China treat it as public health risk rather than a cash cow for the tourism-adjacent industries.

The Macanese authorities encouraged its residents to avoid traveling to mainland China, while their Chinese counterparts followed suit and asked its locals to stay put for the Lunar New Year. Macau has also canceled its traditional firework display, market, and parade to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and discourage travelers from coming to the special administrative region for holidays.

Furthermore, the Macanese authorities introduced an obligatory 14-day self-isolation period for anyone who has traveled to a selected list of provinces and cities in mainland China.

The enclave’s VIP gambling segment is projected to recover more slowly than the mass market. According to Bernstein analysts’ report on Macau’s January financial performance results, “On a relative basis, the premium mass was the best-performing segment during the month, while junket VIP was most hamstrung and base mass continued to be hampered by low levels of visitors and HK travel closure.”

Mainland China’s war against its residents going overseas to gamble can also be a severe blow to the Macanese VIP segment of the casino industry as it heavily relies on such clients.

First, the recently passed changes to China’s Criminal Law will introduce harsher punishment for junket operators. There is an ambiguity to the term “overseas destination” as it is in the law, as Sands China’s president, Wilfred Wong, pointed out during a conference call: “They specifically say outside of the country, which, as you all appreciate, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan is generally considered within the country. But then they leave ambiguity there by putting the word offshore inside the bracket after outside the country.”

Second, Chinese authorities have recently announced that it is developing the second “batch” of blacklisted overseas gambling destinations, and it’s good as anyone’s guess whether Macau will be (or already is) added to the list. China has also been reported to use Big Data to detect the individuals planning to leave the country for the purpose of gambling and prevent them from taking the trip.

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