Editorial | Dore to door greed

Paulo Coutinho

Paulo Coutinho

My informed sources say that over 60 percent of Dore investors are Macau residents.
This is typical of the stories where you can’t really distinguish victims from perpetrators because they are all in the same boat. And you can’t see a clear divide because you have to dig into the complexity of our high-stakes society – the masks obscuring investors’ faces just add depth to my argument, as a metaphor. In a sense, one can say, “the city” is entangled. All it takes is one rogue to rock the boat.
The elusive Ms Chow was apparently a “trustable employee,” as they say in the junket world. Apparently, she had access to “the cage.” Apparently, she chose the wrong horse (whale) to privately back under the green table. When the shit hit the fan, her game collapsed.
What has intrigued me since day one is the wide-band figure of the alleged theft: 200 million to one billion. Come again? The books must be very messy to postulate such a differential. Meanwhile, the number has been updated from the low band (200m) to 300m and afterwards to 400 million. Maybe the troubling exchange rate HKD-RMB boggled the accounting; alright. Or maybe, just maybe, there was a need to pinpoint a scapegoat for all the troubles the junkets are enduring.
Dore’s case raised red flags all over the properties. Junkets were quick to adapt to the muddy waters, and to keep their books in shape they were but very cautious. As a result rolling on high stakes tables had gone down steeply in the weeks following the “theft” – to the dismay of both casinos and public coffers.
According to HSBC analysts, the daily run rate (DRR) dropped in the first week after the exposé to MOP493 – a steep decline from MOP607 million per day just the week before.
The same goes for the casino and junket stocks at the HKSE which have been on a roller-coaster decline, especially from the moment Neptune Group added fear to the chaos, saying they are down almost a billion and threatening to leave Macau.
The investment scheme exposed by the Dore case is far from being unique. Residents have been putting their savings for decades in this 2 percent per month “cladded” revenue. It worked just fine for a long time but now a big lot are in trouble. In some cases, people even mortgage their pricey flats to forge liquid assets to invest in the high-stakes’ game.
The Dore investments serve as a public example of the many residents “informally” investing in the big end of town. And the number goes higher if we add the “formal” ways of proxy-betting, like investing in high leveraged financial instruments such as options and futures of gaming stocks.
The cynics are having a field day: what’s new?! After all, the “whole” city has been into gambling, everybody and the government know it. Everybody and the government have turned a blind eye because people were happy making a quick fortune.
It took a rogue to rock an entire city. Door-to-door.

Categories Editorial