Macau keeps humming as the gambling capital of the world.
Casino revenue in the former Portuguese enclave hit a record 267.87 billion patacas, up 42.2 percent from 2010 and more than five times the casino revenue on the Las Vegas strip.
More than five times all the casinos in Las Vegas combined.
A good chunk of this success is thanks to junkets. Their job is to lure high-rolling gamblers thanks to cheap or free credit and in return they get huge commissions on the gambling turnover from their clients.
According to Hong Kong media, there were 219 officially licensed companies and individuals last year, up 13 percent from 2010.
Licensed junkets are required to pass "suitability" checks as well as internal background screening by the individual casino companies.
Junkets that are officially registered in Macau may also be subjected to probity checks by overseas gambling regulators in the United States, Australia and other countries.
However, not all of this money was generated from legitimate junkets. There's an estimate that the number of unlicensed junkets working in Macau under licensed agents and companies range from several thousand to more than 10,000.
These are shady operations that go beyond the law to collect casino debts from players. That's because unlike Hong Kong, Macau or Singapore, casino debt is not enforceable via courts on the mainland.
Perhaps it has to do with gambling being outlawed in China?
In any event, if there really are thousands of unlicensed junkets out there, mainland Chinese high rollers better beware who they are dealing with -- they may not have a good time in Macau -- and that's not just the losses at the tables.