Shuttered Philippine Junket Denies Owner Arrested In Singapore

August 18, 2023
Back
A junket network that announced the sudden closure of its Philippine casino VIP rooms on Tuesday has denied “rumours” that its owner was arrested in a major Singapore police operation on the same day.

Body

A junket network that announced the sudden closure of its Philippine casino VIP rooms on Tuesday (August 15) has denied “rumours” that its owner was arrested in a major Singapore police operation on the same day.

The OKBET VIP Club said in an online statement that its company OKBET Infinity Inc closed all VIP rooms in the Philippines on Tuesday evening, except for its Okada Manila operation, which will remain open until the end of August to settle customer accounts.

The company will then “cease its operations as decided upon by the company’s Board of Directors”, it said.

A separate statement in Chinese and Korean on the VIP group’s Facebook page on Thursday said the closure is unrelated to bankruptcy or the Singapore arrests, dismissing speculation on the latter as a “malicious smear” and warning that the company is preparing legal action over the claims.

The OKBET Facebook page also includes an image of an anonymous, unsourced statement alleging that OKBET’s “boss” was one of those arrested in Singapore. An OKBET stamp superimposed on the statement reads “rumours” in Chinese.

The Singapore raids, among the largest police operations in the city-state’s history, resulted in the detention of ten suspects amid investigations into at least 20 others on charges of money laundering, forgery and resisting arrest.

A Singapore police statement on Wednesday alleged the syndicate laundered revenue from “overseas organised crime activities including scams and online gambling”, but did not elaborate on these activities.

At least S$948m ($696m) in real estate, luxury cars and boats, luxury watches, designer bags, gold bars and cash were confiscated and 35 bank accounts containing S$110m frozen after more than 400 police and other enforcement agents raided nine residences.

At least six of the defendants were remanded in custody after state court hearings on Wednesday, according to Singapore court data available on Friday.

Neither publicly available police data, nor additional reporting in the Straits Times this week linking the suspects to Fujian Province in China and various business entities, point to the suspects having a Philippine connection.

The website okbet.com, an apparently affiliated Philippine sportsbook and online casino operation, remained active as of Friday (August 18).

The foreign-facing online operation, purportedly licensed by PAGCOR, and the junket operation use different logos and present no overlapping corporate details.

However, a YouTube promotional video posted by OKBET VIP Club in January this year shows footage of a golf tournament in August 2022 that was exclusively sponsored by both operations.

PAGCOR officials were unavailable for comment.

The Philippine land-based casino segment has bounced back from years of pandemic damage to revenue, but VIP operations continue to suffer from a dearth of customers from China, industry sources have told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

The Chinese government is continuing to warn its nationals who travel overseas to gamble or work in the gambling industry that they will be punished upon return, particularly those who travel to mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.