HONG KONG – Police in the world’s largest gambling hub of Macau are hunting for a dealer suspected of stealing HK$48 million ($6 million) worth of casino chips from Wynn Macau, authorities in the Chinese-controlled territory said on Thursday.
Casino thefts in the former Portuguese colony of Macau, which rakes in gambling revenue more than five times that of the Las Vegas strip, are rare, with the majority of cases typically involving employees.
Wynn confirmed to Reuters in an email that the matter was being handled by the police.
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, known as the DICJ, said it was concerned about the incident and had asked casino operators to beef up their security.
The theft, which took place this week, was carried out by a man from Macau who worked in a high-roller VIP room at Wynn’s resort on Macau’s teeming peninsula, media reported.
Public broadcaster TDM said police were also investigating if there were multiple suspects but did not give further detail.
Typically, Wynn casino chips can only be exchanged for cash in Wynn’s casino, so anyone with stolen chips would likely try to cash in small amounts at a time rather than all at once, to avoid attracting attention.
The last major casino heists happened in 2015 and 2016 when employees working in Macau’s VIP parlors stole millions of dollars from junket rooms in the casinos.
Macau’s booming revenues, which totaled $33 billion last year, are underpinned by its VIP junket system, where licensed middlemen act on behalf of casinos to attract “big whale” spenders by arranging their travel and accommodation and handling their gambling credit.
Macau’s six concessionaires Sands China, Wynn, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment all rely heavily on the junket industry for more than half of their gambling revenues.
Reporting by Farah Master;
Greece-macedonia Name Row Edging Towards Solution Says Merkel
BERLIN – Macedonia is closer than any time in the last decade to settling a long-standing dispute over its name with Greece which has thwarted Skopje’s ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.
“I am very pleased and relieved that .. there is movement in the talks,” Merkel told reporters at a joint news conference with Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev.
“In the last ten years, the solution has not been as close as now and it would be wonderful if the remaining difficulties can be bridged,” she said.
Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.
Kremlin Says Russian Defense Sector Fine Accuses Us Of Unfair Competition
MOSCOW – The Kremlin said on Wednesday that “everything is fine” in the Russian defense sector, responding to an assertion by the U.S. State Department that sanctions had cost Russia $3 billion in lost defense contracts.
“I can just say that everything is fine, everything is fine,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a phone call with reporters on Wednesday.
Peskov said Russia was “trying to hedge risks related to instances of unfair competition on the part of the United States in the market of military-technical cooperation.”
Reporting by Max Rodionov; Writing by Polina Ivanova;
Drought-hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry
CAPE TOWN – A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.
On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion liters of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.
South Africa has declared a national disaster over the drought afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which means the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.
Cape Town, which attracts about two million visitors each year, wants to become more resilient as the effects of climate change are felt, similar to other dry cities including Melbourne and California.
“We know that while we are going through a challenging time, we are building a world-class green economy that will be a beacon of hope for many places around,” said Tim Harris, chief executive for Wesgro, a regional trade and tourism agency.
A dried out wicket is seen at a cricket pitch in Cape Town, South Africa, February 11, 2018. Without water, the wickets are considered dangerous to players. All club and school cricket matches has been cancelled as the city attempts to avert a major water crisis. REUTERS/Mike HutchingsThe chronic drought is hurting visitor numbers and knocking a rare economic bright spot, officials said previously.
According to the South African Weather Service, two of the driest seasons ever recorded for the city since observations started in 1921 happened in the last three years: In 2015 when 549 mm (21 inches) fell and last year – the driest year on record – when annual rainfall totaled 499 mm.
Slideshow (13 Images)But, faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years, as the city targets a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million liters.
At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 liters per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.
“We must all keep doing absolutely everything in our power to reach the target set by the national department to reduce our urban usage by 45 percent,” said Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor.
Already hundreds of Cape Town residents are being forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in South Africa’s second largest economic hub and tourism attraction.
However, several desalination plants are planned and together with underground water reserves, are expected to help augment water sources well into the future.
Reporting by Wendell Roelf;
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