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Galaxy Entertainment First Macau Gaming Operator to Accept WeChat Pay

George Miller

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Galaxy Entertainment Macau to Accept WeChat Pay
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Galaxy Entertainment, one of just six licensed gaming operators in Macau, announced this week that it will soon begin accepting WeChat Pay mobile transactions at its three major properties, Galaxy Macau, StarWorld Macau, and Broadway Macau.

WeChat Pay allows mobile users to leave their physical wallets at home, and now visitors to Galaxy Entertainment resorts in Macau will be given that freedom, so long as they don’t plan on gambling. 

WeChat is a popular social media platform in China that has almost a billion monthly active users. Its Pay digital wallet component allows users to link the app to their bank account in order to pay bills, order goods and services, transfer money, and pay in stores by scanning merchant QR codes.

In addition to the yuan, WeChat Pay supports numerous currencies including the Hong Kong dollar, US dollar, Great Britain pound, and euro. Exchange rates are calculated through one of the Chinese government’s commercially owned banks.

In a statement, Galaxy Entertainment said the inclusion of WeChat Pay “answers the needs of mainland Chinese visitors … who overwhelmingly prefer to pay with e-wallets.”

What the company didn’t reveal, however, is whether casino patrons will be able to purchase gaming chips and spin the slot machines through their mobile devices. That might hint that the service won’t be immediately available on the gambling floors. Galaxy only confirmed that WeChat will be accepted “at a wide range of establishments” including hotels, food and beverage establishments, retail shops, and entertainment venues.

Galaxy Entertainmentwas founded in 1988 by Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che Woo. In addition to the three casino resorts, Galaxy also controls three CityClub casinos in Macau.

WeChat Controversy

Galaxy Entertainment welcoming WeChat use into its resorts might come as a surprise considering the recent gambling scandals involving the social platform.

Just last week, Macau’s Judiciary Police arrested seven men for operating an illegal gambling operation that offered baccarat to remote players and took bets via WeChat Pay.

Even more startling was last April’s sting that uncovered a betting ring that used WeChat to livestream video footage of an actual baccarat table inside a Macau casino. Bettors were given 70 seconds to place their bets, and online facilitators collected or paid out on the wagers after the results of each round were displayed. The allure was apparently that there were no betting limits.

Macau police also announced this week that a loansharking operation that facilitated money for gamblers through WeChat Pay had been disrupted.

Asian Appeal

The Asian gambler is a coveted demographic, as they often have a strong belief in luck, fortune, and fate. An anonymous Chinese gambler once said, “If you don’t gamble, you don’t know how lucky you are.” The same, of course, can be said about how unlucky one might be.

Regardless, a substantial portion of Asians enjoy gambling. Behind only the United States, China loses the most money gambling each year of any country.

That’s why over 7,000 miles away in Las Vegas, Caesars recently incorporated WeChat Pay at Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, and LINQ Hotel & Casino. “We want to do this for our Chinese customers to make them feel at home,” Caesars VP of International Marketing Bruce Bommarito said last summer.

WeChat Pay users at the three resorts can purchase food through the app, as well as concert tickets and retail items. However, gambling through the app isn’t available.

Asia

AESF Partners with Coventry University UK

Niji Narayan

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AESF Partners with Coventry University UK
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The Asian Electronic Sports Federation (AESF) has signed an official memorandum which sees them officially collaborating and working together with Coventry University.

Following a meeting with representatives from Coventry University, both parties have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU focuses on four vital aspects, which include a series of planned Webinars, as well as industry research collaboration on topics of interests and Esports governance.

“I would like to celebrate this close relationship we are forming with Coventry University, one of the UK’s most esteemed educational institutions. Not only does it benefit the AESF and our member associations, but it also opens the doors to many more potential partnerships from academia going forward,” Kenneth Fok, president of AESF, said.

“This will not only be beneficial to our athletes but also various stakeholders in this industry. We look forward to supporting our Esports community as well as future talents for their growth and further development in collaboration with Coventry University,” He added.

The AESF and Coventry University will also be looking to create more student experiences, including potential internship programmes and the production of case studies on Esports. The meeting between both parties discussed more opportunities for course development, which includes introductory sessions on Esports and support in the development of course topics for the curriculum.

“Coventry University’s expertise in sports management and business studies will help further support our Member Associations, players, and officials in developing content around the education of Esports. This collaboration not only signifies AESF’s continuous effort in supporting this industry, but it also reflects Coventry University’s dedication and commitment to adapting and keeping up with the times,” Sebastian Lau, Director General of AESF, said.

“We are delighted to have reached this key milestone in developing this crucial partnership for the university. We understand the importance of esports globally and in Asia particularly and are delighted at the opportunity to work with the AESF to support the athletes, players, officials and associations who make up this vibrant community as it continues its rapid growth and innovation,” David Pilsbury, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said.

“We are proud to lay down the foundation of a long-lasting partnership with the AESF, that offers tremendous opportunities in terms of students’ experience. This agreement will also foster the development of impactful, multi-disciplinary research on this fast-changing and growing sector,” Simon Gérard, Course Director, MSc Sport Management, said.

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Asia

Vietnam Police Bust $859 Million Online Gambling Ring

Niji Narayan

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Vietnam Police Bust $859 Million Online Gambling Ring
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Vietnam Police have busted an online gambling ring worth$859 million in northern Hung Yen Province, leading to 20 arrests.

Police seized several mobile phones, computers, SIM cards and around VND2 billion ($85,963) in cash as evidence. Authorities also froze over 100 bank accounts involved in the case.

The ring, operating millions of accounts since 2018, is the largest in Hung Yen yet uncovered, provincial police said.

Among the arrests, Le Tuan Vinh, 32, Tran Thi Ngan, 30, Hoang Van Tan, 32 and Hoang Van Nham, 28, are considered the masterminds.

The four masterminds managed five level-one agencies via five different gambling websites, with its server located outside Vietnam.

Each website would have around 20 level-one agencies assigned to it and each level-one agency would have dozens of level-two agencies below, all spread across the country.

These agencies display gamblers’ personal info like phone numbers or social media accounts publicly, so that players can get in touch with each other and perform transactions. The investigation is ongoing.

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Asia

Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi Keen to Publish IR Implementation Policy in August

Niji Narayan

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Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi Keen to Publish IR Implementation Policy in August
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Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi has issued a statement urging the central government to push ahead with releasing its basic policy on IRs so the candidate city can stick to its own IR schedule.

Commenting at a city council meeting on the fact that Yokohama is yet to publish its own implementation policy, Hayashi said, “I believe the central government knows that Yokohama would like to make its announcement in August.

“In principle, if the government publishes [the basic policy], we can make the August schedule. But if the country cannot issue its basic policy, we will have to rethink this.”

Currently, the application period for candidate locations and operators to submit their bids to the central government is set for January to July 2021.

The mayor described this as a “really tough schedule,” suggesting there could be further delay to the city’s implementation policy draft.

In April, Yokohama postponed its implementation policy publication from June to August to prioritise measures against the spread of COVID-19. Mayor Hayashi commented that changing the schedule was not ideal considering the implications for the operators, but did not go as far as requesting a schedule change from the central government.

Kazuyoshi Akaba, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, said in a press conference that, “[confirmation from each local government has been obtained] and currently none of the local administrations are saying that it poses an obstacle.

“The basic policy draft will be decided in consultation with the relevant ministries and agencies. Currently discussions with the Casino Administration Committee have yet to reach a conclusion.”

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