Wong Sio Chak, the man in charge of security in Macau, is the newest member of the government’s Gaming Commission, Reuters reported.
The secretary for security will join the eight other officials, including the current head of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), Macau’s chief executive and the secretary for economy and finance, who are currently on the commission’s board. Prior to his appointment, Wong served as a representative of the security body in the commission.
According to a GGRAsia report, four out of Macau’s five government secretaries are members of the commission.
Created in 2000, the Gaming Commission was instrumental in the liberalization of the former Portuguese colony’s gaming industry, which opened its doors to foreign operators such as Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.
The commission was dormant for some time after that period, until the government revamped it in 2010 with a new mandate “to research, monitor and implement regulations for the industry.” The body, however, has yet to publish any public report or even hold meetings that would have made the news.
Wong’s appointment comes at a time when the casino gaming revenues’ losing streak continues for 22nd month in a row. Compounding the situation are Macau’s gaming-related issues, which also rose by 38 percent last year mainly due to “large increases in loansharking and false imprisonment.”
A spokesman for the security bureau told Reuters: “It seems there is a connection with security problems. [Wong] should be a part of it. That is understandable.”
In 2015, the number of false imprisonment cases increased by 135 percent to 308, with over 70 percent of the taking place within casino property. Loan-sharking cases were also up 35.6 percent to 240, while illegal gambling crimes more than doubled to 44.
Macau’s gaming industry is currently in the middle of a review. The government is expected to start talks with its six licensed operators—including Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China and Melco Crown—on whether they should be allowed to stay in the market after they concessions and sub-concessions expire between 2020 and 2022.
Secretary for economy and finance Lionel Leong said the review will be submitted to Beijing before this year ends, according to the report.