Junket promoters have been gradually relocating their business operations and their players to small-scale casinos in Southeast Asia after regulatory reforms transformed the gaming market in the Macau SAR, a new study reveals.

The indication was included in a paper set to be published in the forthcoming Gaming Law Review, by Ryan Ho, a Lecturer at the Centre for Gaming and Tourism Studies of the Macao Polytechnic University and Jenny Phillips, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Business and Law of the University of Saint Joseph.

According to the paper, while the Macau gaming industry once had 235 junket promoters and a multitude of VIP rooms spread throughout the local casinos, “only a dozen or so gaming promoters have been in operation among the 36 junket licensees” since the new casino concessions began in January 2023.

Macau junkets

The SAR’s regulatory control over the junket sector has been significantly strengthened in response to mounting concerns, including informal junket practices, third-party operated VIP rooms, and the compensation model for gaming promoters and their collaborators.

These included new entry requirements, suitability and financial requirements, obligations and joint liabilities with gaming concessionaires, and penalties for violations and non-compliance.

The result, according to Ho and Phillips, was a “profound shift in the industry’s entire landscape,” with many doubts remaining about the future of gaming promoters.

Moving on out

The changes also forced either a change in career or relocation to greener pastures.

“Amid the challenging circumstances, it is apparent that some junket promoters have been gradually relocating their business operations, along with their players, to small-scale casinos in Southeast Asia,” the paper suggests.

At the same time, current and former junket employees with extensive customer service experience have attempted to leverage their expertise and resources to pursue new career opportunities in gaming and tourism activities.

Still, the researchers describe a silver lining, as all six concessionaires have either established formal partnerships or are in contemplation of accepting gaming promoters to access their VIP rooms, as part of their shift to premium mass.

‘Moreover, Macau and the six concessionaires are currently pitching the international gaming market to complement the local casino market,’ the paper argues’

‘By leveraging the networks of junket promoters and their associates, concessionaires can effectively reach a diverse range of foreign patrons and expand their business opportunities beyond the Greater China region.’