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Grand Lisboa Macau name used in illegal gambling

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Grand Lisboa Macau name used in illegal gambling

Vietnamese authorities, working in conjunction with China’s Ministry of Public Security and Zhuhai Police, have arrested 395 suspects for operating an illegal internet gambling operation worth more than RMB3 billion (US$437 million).

The suspects were arrested in Vietnam’s Hai Phong City, near Hanoi, where a collection of 21 criminal gangs working together rented more than 10 apartment buildings from which they established 187 gambling websites.

The domain names included “Grand Lisboa Macau” – utilizing the name of one of Macau’s most iconic integrated resorts. The Grand Lisboa Macau domain, which was divided into eight independently operating website, was responsible for the largest amount of funds.

The operation is said to have been started by a group of five individuals in Shenzhen and Huizhou in 2017 before moving to Vietnam in 2018. A large number of citizens from Haiphong City had been employed to work for the syndicate.

The authorities last week seized froze 1279 Alipay and bank accounts with RMB2.54 million (US$370,000) in funds were seized.

The Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino is owned by Stanley Ho’s Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) and is one of the more recognizable properties in the world’s largest gaming center. 

That brand recognition is likely one reason why the aforementioned criminals used the brand across eight different sites and why those web properties combined to contribute the largest percentage of the ill-gotten $437 million.

Tough Timing

News of the illegal gambling ring exploiting the SJM property’s name comes amid increasing investor optimism for the gaming company in 2020. Analysts have been ratcheting up ratings on Macau operators, including SJM, noting that gross gaming revenue (GGR) on the peninsula should rebound in the second half of this year.

For example, JPMorgan recently raised its rating on SJM to “overweight” from “neutral,” fueling a rally that saw the stock gain 17 percent for the two weeks ending Jan. 16.

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