Nevada GCB Heads to Macau for Gaming Regulator Summit

Fact-finding jaunt to China deemed "a complete success"

by , Jan 21, 2013 | 10:00 am

Macau CasinoNevada’s three Gaming Control Board members traveled to Macau [last] week in an effort to re-establish the relationship with their regulatory counterparts in the world’s largest gambling market.

Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett characterized the trip as a “fact-finding’ mission and called the series of meetings, including talks with law enforcement officials in Hong Kong, “a complete success.”

He said the relationship between Nevada regulators and Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – often referred to at the DICJ – had not been very strong in recent years.

“We’ve established a good rapport with the DICJ and will lead to a good era of cooperation and discussions amongst the two agencies,” Burnett said late Thursday. “We were well-received and, as with all things in Asia, these relationships take time to nurture.”

The visit to Macau marked the first time all three members of the Gaming Control Board – the state’s full-time regulatory panel – had traveled together to the gaming market.

The trip also involved meetings with law enforcement officials in Hong Kong and came at a time when the U.S. Department of Justice has launched investigations into Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. over possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Burnett said the trip to Hong Kong “was for fact-finding and to understand how the region regulates the gaming industry.”

Wynn, Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International have invested billions of dollars of resort development into Macau’s casino industry since 2002, a market that produced a record $38 billion in gaming revenues in 2012.

All three companies are in the various stages of expanding their gaming presence in Macau. Both Wynn and MGM Resorts have been approved to develop multibillion dollar hotel-casinos on Macau’s Cotai Strip while Las Vegas Sands is completing the next phase of its $4.4 billion Sands Cotai Central complex.

Nevada’s slot machine industry is also heavily invested in Macau.

Burnett said he met privately with Manuel Joaquim das Neves, director of the DICJ.

“I think these meetings will be beneficial to both agencies,” Burnett said.

Burnett visited Macau on several occasions during his tenure as assistant chief of corporate securities at the control board.

The trip was the first visit to the region for control board member Shawn Reid and recently appointed board member Terry Johnson.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for the other two board members to see Macau, ask their own questions of operators, and form their own opinions as to what they think about it,” Burnett said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.
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