China closes high roller tap for MacauMuhammad Cohen

China closes high roller tap for MacauMuhammad Cohen

With high rollers increasingly scarce, Las Vegas Sands subsidiary Sands China is betting that fake London, alongside fake Venice and Paris, will bring in crowds . (Photo provided by Sands China)

For years, a key question overhanging Macau has been how long will China tolerate hundreds of billions of dollars annually exiting the mainland via Macau casino VIP rooms. “No longer,” mainland authorities broadcast with the arrest of Suncity chairman Alvin Chau, precipitating the rapid collapse of Macau’s junket business.

Macau may still be the best bet in Asian gaming, but it’s now a whole new ballgame. No more debating about whether mainland China’s efforts to curtail overseas gambling and money transfers apply to Macau.

Mainland high rollers can still gamble millions in Macau. Without junkets, though, they’ll have to find their own means to skirt China’s currency controls. And they’ll know exactly how Beijing feels about their activities.

Former US diplomat and broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a columnist for ICE 365, a contributor to Forbes, columnist/correspondent for Asia Times, and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at; follow him on Facebook, Twitter @MuhammadCohen and LinkedIn.

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