| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Jan 25 U.S. billionaire Sheldon
Adelson's Venetian Macau casino is suing two mainland Chinese
high-rollers, including a delegate to China's parliament, over
gaming debts totalling around HK$34 million ($4.4 million).
In separate writs filed in Hong Kong's High Court this week,
the casino is seeking to recover HK$23 million from Shanghai
businesswoman Zou Yunyu and more than HK$11 million from Xie
Xiaoqing, a delegate to the National People's Congress.
The casino said they each borrowed money in the form of
VIP Chinese gamblers flock to Macau as it is the only place
in China where citizens can legally gamble in casinos, boosting
the gaming revenues of the former Portuguese colony. But casinos
there run the risk of not being able to recover any debts once
gamblers return to the mainland because such debts are not
recognised by Chinese courts.
The lawsuit filed by the Venetian Macau is atypical in that
most casinos prefer to rely on junket operators - agents who
find and ferry around high-rollers and arrange credit - to
collect debts rather than go through the courts.
The credit agreements for Zou and Xie set an 18 percent
annual interest rate on outstanding debt, according to the
Neither of the defendants was immediately available to
Zou was ranked 302nd out of 400 richest Chinese by Forbes
magazine in 2008 with a fortune of 1.5 billion yuan ($241.23
Adelson's Venetian Macau, a unit of Hong Kong-listed Sands
China, is a massive casino resort on reclaimed former
swampland that is now home to five-star hotels and designer
shops with some of the highest sales in the world.
Macau, a cash cow for local billionaires and U.S. tycoons
such as Steve Wynn and Adelson, raked in $38 billion in annual
gaming revenues in 2012.
China has been pressing Macau to step up scrutiny of money
transfers as part of a broader move to combat corruption and
promote "responsible gaming" in the casino halls of the world's
largest gambling hub.
China imposes strict limits on how much money - $50,000 -
its citizens can take out of the country, making Macau a valve
for hot money escaping the world's second-largest economy.