Suncity in the press for sluggish refunds to junket customers

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Suncity in the press for sluggish refunds to junket customers

Junket operator Suncity is committed to refunding deposits made to the firm after high-roller players in the Philippines claimed the return of their funds was sluggish.

GGR Asia reports that the affected people were reportedly requesting full access to advance deposits made to the junket firm at its VIP operations located in casinos in the Philippines.

Such advancements were made before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“Suncity continues to reiterate its commitment to honour its obligations,” said the firm.

The company added: “However, several issues also arise upon withdrawal including the absence of the account holder, lacking proper and acceptable authorisation for representatives, non-compliance with agreed withdrawal procedures, or non-compliance with anti-money laundering safeguards being implemented by Suncity.”

A news report in the Philippines said the local unit of the Suncity Group had addressed the issue of player refunds in a letter to the country’s regulator, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp, following complaints by the players allegedly affected by the delays.

“There really is difficulty in releasing the entirety of the placements at once due to Suncity Group’s current financial situation,” lawyers representing the group said.

“An instalment plan to complete the release of the funds in 11 months has been proposed and an option to settle by way of dacion of real properties has likewise been offered,” Suncity said.

Suncity Group’s latest statement in the Manila Bulletin made no reference to how the firm was preparing to reimburse the players.

It did confirm that the junket operator had addressed the issue in “several letters” to Pagcor.

The junket operator has disputed that Ronala Aala, identified in the report, as counsel for the 49 customers, was actually authorised to represent them.

“This lack of authority has been raised by Suncity in its response to Pagcor,” the junket firm said.

An original report had quoted Mr Aala as saying one of the original conditions for the advance deposits to Suncity Group was that players could use or withdraw their money at any time.

Privately-held Macau casino junket brand Suncity Group is a firm linked to Mr Chau, who also leads Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings.

Suncity Group Holdings has investment in Hoiana, a casino resort in Vietnam, and a Philippine unit is involved in developing a casino hotel in the Westside City scheme in Manila, in the Philippines.

The company also has an investment in Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings, the promoter of the Tigre de Cristal casino in Russia.

Suncity plans its own hotel brand

A leading Asian casino and hotel development business is planning to launch its own hotel brand, to coincide with the launch of its new $1 billion hotel in Manila’s Entertainment City.

Inside Asian Gaming reported that the hotel brand, whose name is yet to be officially announced, will become a consistent brand through all properties operated by Suncity Group.

The flagship first hotel of the brand will be located at Manila’s Westside City Resorts World, where Suncity is majority shareholder in the casino and hotel development, scheduled to open in late 2023.

News of the company’s hotel ambitions represents yet another significant step as it transitions further away from its roots as a VIP operator and into the world of integrated resort operations.

In 2020, Suncity held a preview opening of its maiden integrated resort project, Hoiana, located near Da Nang Vietnam, with plans for a grand opening when the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

It is also finalising designs for the Phase 2 expansion of Tigre de Cristal, located in the Primorye Entertainment Zone, near Vladivostok, Russia.

Tigre de Cristal is 77.5 per cent owned by Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings, which is in turn 69.66 per cent owned by Suncity.

The Westside City development is being conducted by a local Philippines entity, Suntrust Home Developers, of which Suncity acquired a 51 per cent stake in 2019 as part of a three-way agreement with Philippines construction giant Megaworld Corporation and Resorts World Manila operator Travellers International Hotel Group.

The project is set to include 400 gaming tables and 1200 slot machines, while Suncity’s hotel will offer 400 five-star rooms.

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