A recent report by The Toronto Globe and Mail suggests that Las Vegas casino corporations MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands could all struggle to obtain their intended licenses to operate in the Ontario, Canada area due to allegations of corruption and bribery carried out during their dealings in the Chinese region of Macau. The war of words has turned into a back-and-forth battle of Toronto casino allegations that could affect all the parties involved.
Harsh Allegations, But What’s the Motive?
All three operators have denied these allegations, but the Canadian licensing authorities may still take the claims into consideration when making the decision regarding licensing.
However, those making the allegations the loudest are reportedly casino operators currently based in Toronto, who appear to be attempting to prevent the licensing authorities from granting casino licenses to anybody, possibly through fear of competition. In fact, the three operators have all been investigated for the alleged behavior and the majority of the accusations are yet to be proven.
They Said, Who Said?
MGM Resorts International is facing claims of involvement with an organized crime ring in Asia, and although they dispute such allegations, it is still possible that this may bring turbulent times to their plans to develop an integrated resort and casino at the waterfront Exhibition Place in Toronto. The corporation, which receives some 30 percent of its revenues from China, also halted business in Atlantic City after the shady claims were made.
Likewise, Wynn Resort’s ongoing dispute with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over claims from former Wynn partner Kazuo Okada could put a dent in their plans. The Japanese tycoon, (who has also been accused by Wynn of shady dealings in the Phillipines), brought to light a $135 million dollar donation to the University of Macau by Wynn. Even though the Nevada Gaming Control Board dismissed the case after a lengthy legal battle, the Okada-Wynn battles persist.
Las Vegas Sands Corp., however, has owned up to their mistakes, if somewhat like a disgruntled child caught lying. Earlier this month the corporation told the SEC that it had “probably” violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. There is now an ongoing investigation after Las Vegas Sands admitted there were “likely violations of the books and records and internal controls provisions.”
“Are the companies appropriately competing for a casino in Ontario? Do they have the regulatory clearance to even bid on a casino in Ontario?” quoted The Globe and Mail from Adam Vaughan, a councilor against casino development in the area.
All three casino operators must now hope that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission see fit to grace them with a license, but whether they will pass the ethical standards with these accusations made against them will have the operators pacing around and some nail-biting going on.
“We will be contacting other jurisdictions to see if there are any issues that might preclude the applicant from being issued a registration,” Alcohol and Gaming Commission spokeswoman Lisa Murray told The Globe and Mail.