More rules on the way for Macau casinos

Macau SkylineMacau’s government plans to introduce penalties for violations in its $30 billion gaming industry, as it plugs gaps in outdated laws including one banning phone-betting at casinos, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Gaming Inspection and Coordination said it will “complete supplementary laws for violations and related penalties that weren’t previously included, amend outdated rules, and bring in new regulations.”

The planned penalties “will further hurt the revenue of the struggling industry in the short term,” said Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong Ltd. analyst Jamie Soo. If the ban on phone-betting is more strictly enforced, along with penalties, the negative impact may be incrementally felt in the months ahead, he said.

The gaming regulator currently only advises its agents to issue verbal warnings to violators of the ban on phone-betting, a practice which contributes about 20 percent of gaming promoters’ revenue, Soo said in a telephone interview.

Phone betting helps gamblers skirt China’s currency controls, as promoters conduct card games via wireless earpieces connected to mobile phones for high-stakes VIP clients. While a 2001 Macau law banned the practice, it doesn’t come with sanctions. There was no enforcement as long as operators reported the bets and the identities of the gamblers to the regulator

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: 

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