Macau casino 'crime watchdog' is shut down

Macau 'watchdog' folds after seven months amid allegation of threats from top gaming figures

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 September, 2012, 10:20am

A US-based website which pledged to lift the lid on organised crime in Macau's casinos has been shut down after just seven months. said it would expose "dangerously weak" regulatory curbs on the influence of triad gangs in the city's gaming industry. But it has closed amid allegations of political dirty tricks and legal threats from top gaming industry figures.

Launched in February, the website received a hostile reception from official regulators in the world's most cash-rich gaming destination, who accused those behind it of having "questionable motives".

Sources confirmed to the Sunday Morning Post that the website received at least one "crude" legal threat from a prominent Hong Kong and Macau business figure over the content of the site.

The man who set up the site with the backing of American trade union the International Union of Operating Engineers - many of whose members work in US casinos - would say only that "lack of impact" led to its closure.

Speaking for the first time since ceased operating, Washington-based Jeff Fiedler, who is also a four-term member of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said: "It didn't have the impact we had hoped for. We are busy with more important stuff.''

Gaming insiders have speculated that because the union sides with the US Democratic Party, the site's intent was to dig dirt on Sheldon Adelson's Sands China operation.

Adelson has been a big contributor to the Republican Party's bid to put Mitt Romney in the White House. But the site did not exclusively focus it's attention on Adelson's operations. Other theories suggested Fiedler's role on the US-China Economic and Security Commission and its perceived anti-China bias may have been a factor.

The site published publicly available documents on big and small players in Macau's murky casino junkets - the companies who bring in the big-money gamblers who provide the bulk of Macau's gaming revenue.

It also featured profiles on major VIP room and junket operators and about VIP gaming in Macau.

Its closure comes amid reports in Macau that notorious 14K triad boss "Broken Tooth'' Wan Kuok-koi will be released from jail on December 1 this year and is planning to re-enter the casino junkets business.

Wan was a junket boss before he was jailed 14 years ago for organised crime offences.