Your Daily Asia Gaming eBrief: Pass Go and skip jail

dongmei ribbon cutting
Dongmei ribbon cutting in KL (file)

Good morning, 

There’s one casino executive this week who must be relieved it’s Friday: Imperial Pacific International CEO Donald Browne narrowly escaped a jail term after both he and the company were found in contempt of a CNMI court. We had the chance to interview the man himself about the company’s ongoing challenges – check out what he has to say. Also of note is Attorney Mel Racela, executive director of the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council, featured in our latest Face to Face video interview series. Turning to the headlines, the US Treasury Department has sanctioned one of the key investors in a Myanmar project that includes casinos, accusing him of bribery and corruption – Wan Kuok Koi, also known as “Broken Tooth.” Finally, we examine some of the latest data about the jump in cashless payments that has attended the year of the pandemic.

First, the news


What you need to know


Backer of Myanmar casino city sanctioned by U.S.

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned one of the key investors in a Myanmar project that includes casinos, accusing him of bribery and corruption. Wan Kuok Koi, is also known as “Broken Tooth”, which the U.S. says is one of the largest Chinese organized criminal organizations in the world. According to the U.S., Koi is designated for being a foreign person who is a leader, or official of an entity, that has engaged in corruption, or whose members have engaged in corruption or bribery.

dongmei ribbon cutting

Pandemic accelerated shift to cashless payments

More data is coming in to verify what many observers already believed to be the case; that the year of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated public acceptance of cashless payments, including in places such as Hong Kong and Macau. The latest evidence comes from a Visa Hong Kong and Macau research report finds that a massive transformation occurred this year within its region of study. In Macau, for example, the local population used cash in 96 percent of their transactions in 2019, but this year the figure plummeted to only 24 percent of financial transactions. Visa has found that the coronavirus encouraged more consumers to pay digitally at shops or retailers, and that the Asia-Pacific has led the world in adopting digital payments during the pandemic.

Insights


FACE-TO-FACE

Mel Racela: Tracking Philippines AML compliance 

Attorney Mel Racela, executive director of the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council, speaks with Asia Gaming Brief’s Sharon Singleton about steps the Philippines is taking to guard against money laundering and the challenges posed by online gambling. He says he’s confident the country has taken adequate steps to avoid the FATF grey list.

Atty. Mel Racela
Atty. Mel Racela, executive director, Philippines Anti Money Laundering Council
DEEP DIVE

IPI CEO looks to the future after escaping jail term

There’s one casino executive this week who must be relieved it’s Friday. Imperial Pacific CEO Donald Browne narrowly escaped a jail term after both he and the company were found in contempt of a Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands court. Speaking to Asia Gaming Brief earlier this week, Browne spoke about the problems the company had been facing and IPI’s interest in online gambling should the CNMI finalize a bill legalizing igaming.

Imperial Pacific Holdings

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Knowledge trumps content in Asia igaming

In Asia’s complex and diverse i-gaming landscape, having the right content means business success only if one more key ingredient is included – market knowledge. Solid Gaming may have been focusing on Asia for only 3 years but its penetration amongst operators is surely a testament to its local know-how. 

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