Monday, May 9 was the first day that Macau casinos were required to prohibit the use of mobile phones at gaming tables and Paulo Martins Chan, head of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), said the week had passed without rampant rule-breaking.
Macau Business Daily quoted Chan saying there were “only few” violations observed on May 9, while the number “went up a bit on the second day,” although Chan declined to offer specific figures.
Given the recent introduction of the new policy, Chan said DICJ inspectors were currently only giving warnings to offenders, most of whom “usually stop using their phones” as a result. However, inspectors and casinos will each have the right to bar repeat offenders from entering casinos.
The phone ban was intended to curtail the previously tolerated practice of proxy betting, in which a trusted proxy sits at a gaming table in a junket-controlled VIP room, relaying real-time card info to a high-roller located offsite – usually on the Chinese mainland – who advises the proxy how he wishes to wager.
Both the DICJ and some casino operators – particularly those with US operations – had expressed concern regarding proxy betting’s capacity to circumvent know your customer procedures, leaving operators potentially vulnerable to multi-million dollar penalties.
Chan also discussed a recommendation spelled out in the gaming market’s recent mid-term review, which suggested inspectors should conduct undercover sting operations to determine if casinos and junkets were fudging the rules, not only with proxy betting but also with off-the-books ‘side betting.’
Chan told local broadcaster TDM that some public consultation was required before such sting operations could be considered, as they raised potential legal concerns regarding entrapment. However, Chan suggested that these concerns might not apply if the DICJ understood that the individual in question was a known repeat offender.
Kwok Chi Chung, who heads the local junket association, said his group “generally agree with the director as those who conduct legal activities would not be affected” by such sting operations. But like Chan, the junket rep said “public consensus” would be required to ensure the process was considered above board.