HONG KONG (Sept 14): Macau wants government representatives to supervise casino operators and plans to increase local ownership in gaming companies, signalling tighter control over the world’s largest gambling hub amid Beijing’s efforts to clamp down on money laundering and currency outflows.
The government aims to increase “direct supervising” in gaming companies to better monitor their operations, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said in a press briefing on Tuesday, without elaborating how the proposed changes will be enacted. Officials also suggested raising the shareholdings of local directors in gaming companies from the currently required minimum of 10%, according to a public consultation paper on the proposal.
Authorities also proposed to increase scrutiny on the so-called junkets which service high-rollers and extend credit to them, including raising entry barriers for junket operators as well as allowing background checks. The proposed changes could be made in a long-gestating revision of the casino law, which will be passed ahead of Macau’s issuance of new gaming licences to operators. Current gaming licences expire in June 2022.
China has been clamping down on activity by so-called VIP punters in Macau for several years now over concerns that the high-stakes betting there — which takes place in convertible Hong Kong dollars — can sometimes be an illicit channel of currency outflow and money-laundering efforts. Beijing has also cracked down on organized gambling trips to Macau and other overseas destinations by junkets