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Macau Murder for Hire Tie-ing Las Vegas Sands

Written by:
Alejandro Botticelli
Published on:
Mar/30/2010
Las Vegas Sands Macau

Reuters was revealed on Wednesday (local time) the ties to casino gambling in Macau and the underworld of organized crime which threatens to place the Las Vegas Sands in jeopardy. 

A plot to break the arms and legs of a dealer at Sands Macau suspected of helping a patron cheat millions of dollars from the business would subsequently turn into an order to murder.

One of the men assigned to the act decided to come forward and implicate Cheung Chi-tai. At trial a witness identified Cheung as a leader of the Wo Hop To -- one of the organized crime groups in the region known as triads. But it gets even more interesting.  Cheung was not just named as a triad member but also, according to a regular casino patron testifying in the trial, "the person in charge" of one of the VIP rooms at the Sands Macau.

From Reuters:

The murder-for-hire case sheds light on the links between China's secretive triad societies and Macau's booming gambling industry. It also raises potentially troubling questions about one of the world's largest gaming companies, Las Vegas Sands, which plans to open a $5.5 billion Singapore casino resort in late April.

The Reuters news service also points out that Cheung was a major investor in the Neptune Group, a publicly traded company involved in casino junkets -- the middlemen who bring wealthy clients to Macau's gambling halls. Documents show that his investment allowed him a share in the profits from a VIP gambling room at the casino.

Those US casinos operating in Macau are headquartered and sanctioned in Nevada.  They must comply with that state's strict laws that prohibit "unsuitable" associations that "discredit" its gaming industry.

And it is not just the Las Vegas Sands that stands to be hurt by these latest revelations.  MGM has its own issues related to Macau and the ability to operate in certain US jurisdictions.

"This comes at a bad time for MGM," says Mark Lesnick, an organizer of gambling industry conferences.  "They were applying for a gaming license in Atlantic City and had to deal with the Fact that Stanley Ho was their business partner in the Sands Macau."

Ho has been linked to Macau's organized crime scene, though the 87-year old mogul has long denied such claims.  His daughter Patsy now runs the Ho empire. 

Alenjandro Botticelli, Gambling911.com 

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