Macau’s gaming regulator looks to fight problem gambling issues by introducing a new legislative piece, focused on closing loopholes in the already existing gambling regulatory framework. Under the proposal, the casino employees will not be allowed to enter any gambling facility when off-duty. The idea is to be discussed at a one-month public consultation, which the government kicks off today and it is to end on 26th October.
In a press conference, which was held on Tuesday, the Director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), Paulo Martins Chan, submitted the proposal as a point of discussion. He explained that the current law protects the common people, but not the people, who are directly involved in the casino games, including card dealers and casino staff. Mr. Chan backed up his stance, using data from the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS).
According to the survey, the number of casino dealers, who experience gambling problems is constantly growing. Mr. Chan provided a good reason for this tendency, highlighting that dealers and croupiers are more confident as they think to have better knowledge of the game. It became clear that the proposed ban on off-duty casino staff will not target the entire casino staff, but only the employees, who are in a direct contact with the casino or the game. To be more precise, these include table game supervisors, casino hosts, cashiers, pit managers and dealers. Supposing the bill enters the country’s legal framework, the wrongdoers are to be slapped a hefty fine between MOP1,000 and MOP10,000.
Apart from the casino employees, the consultation document aims to simplify the sanction procedures for gamblers under the allowed age of 21. It was proposed that people under the gambling age should be fined immediately once they are caught red-handed. The fine is to range between MOP1,000 to MOP10,000 and the wrongdoer will have 15 days to pay it voluntarily. The gambling facility will be also fined, paying a solid amount between MOP10,000 and MOP500,000. Here it is interesting to note that in 2012 Macau increased the minimum gambling age from 18 to 21.
Flaws in the Current Law
Under the current gambling law, casino employees are barred to gamble in the casino facilities, operated by their own employers. On the other hand, they are allowed to enter any other gambling complex and gamble at large. Supposing the bill is passed, that loophole will be closed and all casino employees besides administration staff, food and beverage workers, security guards, surveillance staff and performers will be restricted from entering casino floors. The officials proposed an exemption to the ban, applying the same rules for the barred casino employees as for the city’s civil servants, who are allowed to enter gambling facility only during the Chinese New Year holiday season.
DICJ pointed out that another major problem is that most of the detected wrongdoers, who do not comply with the gambling age are tourists. The current sanction procedures are quite clumsy and slow. In most of the cases, it turns out that the wrongdoer already left Macau, which makes the entire procedure expensive and time-consuming.