Macau tightens gambling laws

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
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Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has introduced new legislation that bans workers from entering casino floors outside work hours.

Vegas Slots Online reports the former government made the move in a bid to fight crime and gambling addiction.

It is expected to impact 54,000 gaming workers, including employees that are not directly involved with gaming operations.

As per the new law, employees can only enter the casino floor while not on shift within the first three days of the Chinese New Year.

An exception will be made for civil servants and in certain situations where there is a legitimate cause for employees to be on the gaming floor.

The previous government left office on December 20, but put these new rules in place due to the higher risk of employees to gambling addiction.

Along with employees being banned from the casino floor after their work day is over, the new legislation includes other bans.

The sanctioning procedure for those who violate the casino entry ban has been simplified.

Players under the age of 21 who gain entry to casinos illegally will be fined based on mechanisms established by the government.

The legislation strengthened rules regarding the recording of images and sounds at the casino, as well as mobile phone usage and other types of equipment being banned at the tables.

Loan sharks behind crime spike

Another reason behind the legal changes in Macau involves casino crime.

Macau is considered one of the safest cities in the world, but violent crime in the region is increasing.

For the first nine months of 2019, violent crime in Macau increased by 16.2 per cent, when compared to last year.

The increase is mainly due to kidnappings taking place involving loan sharks and the gambling industry.

Crime figures for Macau showed that 438 gambling-related crimes took place during the first quarter of the year alone.

Illegal loans increased by more than 37 per cent with 81 reported cases.

Law enforcement agencies are placing emphasis on loan sharking in an attempt to avoid cases of kidnapping and even death in the future.

A case from May this year involved a gambler losing his life after he was unable to pay back a debt to a loan shark.

The victim borrowed US$6,421 and gambled it all away within three hours at one of the casinos in Macau.

After being unable to repay, the loan sharks kidnapped the gambler.

After two days of beatings by the captors, he died.

One killer confessed to police and all three people involved were taken into custody.

This horrific case is just one example of how crime is impacting the region.

Authorities created a single operations centre to work on gambling crime, with four inspections teams for Macau operating out of the facility.

Additional oversight is planned to help crackdown efforts against illegal loan sharking and other gambling-related crime.

Macau Casino fined $1.25m for breaches

A three-year joint investigation by the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Tukwila Police Department, Macau Casino has agreed to pay a US$1.25 million penalty for loansharking and money laundering operation at two of its casinos.

The payments will partially reimburse the commission for costs incurred during the three-year investigation and act as a deterrant to other casinos.

ICLG reported in November that the investigation concerned activities at Macau Casino’s Lakewood and Tukwila locations, which revealed that a female employee was working with co-conspirators to buy-in on games.

She would enter the casino with bags full of US$20 bills which were given to her accomplices, who then played in the casino for a “brief period” before cashing out for US$100 bills, according to the investigation.

Cash and chips were loaned to customers, with a charge of 10 to 15 per cent.

She targeted employees and patrons who were earning minimum wage and who “clearly had gambling problems.”

The high interest loans were made to about 100 players and casino workers.

The scheme led to the alleged laundering of $1.5 million via the casinos.

The female suspect has been charged with money laundering, unlawful debt and use of extortionate means to collect extensions of credit.

The two casino owners have been prohibited from participating in future gambling activities in Washington, while seven employees have had their licenses revoked, with four more revocations pending.

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