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Inside job

Inside Asian Gaming had an interesting scoop this week about the downfall of Philippines junket Dowinn Group.

The business is mainly known for operating VIP rooms in several Manila integrated resorts, including Okada Manila, Solaire and City of Dreams, and at D’Heights and Royce in Clark.

According to anonymous sources, Dowinn has ceased activity across all its casino and VIP operations and withdrawn its managers.

Many of these managers have reportedly fled the country, largely back home to South Korea.

While the exact circumstance of the collapse is unclear, it seems the issue first came to light when Dowinn agents unsuccessfully tried to access company accounts in Okada Manila and at Solaire.

One IAG source described the events as the “the complete collapse of the company”.

Asian junkets have gained an ethically dubious reputation in recent years due their association with organised crime and money laundering scandals.

Most famously, the CEO of the SunCity junket Alvin Chau was sentenced to 18-years in 2023 after being linked to ‘Broken Tooth’ Wan Kuok-koi, former head of the Macau branch of the 14K Triad.

While the junket sector has a reputation that falls somewhere between Lionel Hutz and Tony Soprano, the scant details in the Donwinn case adds a maddening hint of mystery.

What has exactly happened here? The IAG piece raises more questions than it answers, which is, unfortunately, often the way in the murky world of junkets.

As I explained to the judge

There’s a touch of cosmic irony to the latest UK Conservative Party scandal.

This top Tory team, who couldn’t quite get gambling reform done in a single term, are now in hot water for a series of bets on the date of the election.

With three prospective candidates so far linked to illicit pre-election bets, questions have been raised if their behaviour was simply unethical or downright criminal.

Are they being punished for the failures of the Gambling Act review? Are they getting their just desserts for every delay, obfuscation, and poorly thought-out plan along the way?

Possibly. Call it Chris Philp’s revenge.

Despite the Tory campaign operation glumly watching this all dash their scant electoral hopes like snake eyes in a game of craps – there is reason to believe things could soon get even worse for them.

The Financial Times has scraped Betfair data and reported a huge spike of bets there would be a July election on the day prior to its announcement.

Quite how these punters gained this supernatural clairvoyance is unknown, although I suppose many could have a reasoned guess.

There’s indeed something comical about the Gambling Commission bringing down a series of powerful politicians – a bit like if Trump was arrested by the US Postal Service.

But whatever the stakes, it seems the Tories are stuck with a rotten hand.

Parking the bus

England, my England – why are you so rubbish?

Jonathan Liew wrote an entertaining analysis of England’s recent nigh-on comatose game against Denmark for the Guardian yesterday (20 June).

The game saw England opt to park the bus on a vulnerable lead, with predictably poor results.

Within, the Guardian sportswriter poured scorn on what he saw as a performance “too bad to be boring”.

One passage is too good not to be repeated in full:

“Every time the men in white took possession of the sphere in the proximity of the left wing, they were consistently forced to funnel it, in turn, to the centre of the pitch, rendering most of their offensive efforts tortured, even disjointed. The side in red could simply defend their territory in the middle with impunity, secure in the knowledge their opponents were powerless to hurt them on their right verge.

“That’s a pretty terrible paragraph, right? But that’s what happens when you wilfully restrict your options.

“You have Kieran Trippier, a right-footed left-back who doesn’t even bother trying to disguise the fact – no feint, no shimmy, no darting eyes – that he’s going to turn back inside.

“You have Phil Foden, a left-footed player with very little interest in playing on the left wing, who always wants to come short into the central areas.

“England are essentially a team playing on 70% of the pitch, which is like trying to write an entire paragraph – like I did above – without using the letter A.”

It’s the tactical equivalent of bringing a spoon to a knife fight.

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