Macau’s government introduced an array of new regulations last Friday designed to improve the city’s gambling image. The Legislative Assembly still has to sign off on the measures, but no one anticipates any opposition. One of the new guidelines applies directly to casino workers, and says that no Macau-based gaming employees are allowed to be on the casino floor outside of regular duty hours. This effectively means that no casino gaming employee will be able to gamble anywhere in the city.
Additionally, the measure broadly covers other casino employees. Food and beverage employees, cleaners, cage staff and surveillance staff won’t be able to gamble, either. The move isn’t a considerable blow, as a number of gaming operators already had contractual bans on employee gaming on their properties.
However, the bill seeks to expand those limitations to prevent employees from gambling at any facility, regardless of affiliation. If an employee is found at a gaming operation outside working hours, he or she would face a fine of anywhere from $125 to $1,236. The only exception would be given to employees for the first three days of each Chinese New Year period.
The bill has been percolating since May 2016, when representatives of the gaming regulator and local authorities discussed a similar ban. During those discussions, two local gaming labor groups said that they were not opposed to the measures.
In addition to the ban, the bill seeks to streamline the process to handle underage gambling. If someone under 21 years of age is found on a gaming floor, that individual can immediately be fined about $123, if he or she admits wrongdoing. Macau has determined that the majority of underage gamblers have been foreigners, and the introduction of streamlined processes for their handling would help to reduce costs and make the processes operate more efficiently.
According to local law, any person under the age of 21 who enters, gambles or works at a casino can be fined $125 to $1,236. If a casino operator is found to have allowed the individual in, it can also be fined, with the amount ranging from $1,236 to $61,000.
In 2012, the legal age for gambling in Macau was raised from 18 to 21. It was designed to discourage local gambling and to keep youth in schools earning a higher education, and not looking for work immediately after high school.
Under the new regulations, local authorities would also now have the ability to seize any winnings or wagers from individuals who were banned from casinos, once that ban has been verified. The bill also says that mobile phones and other types of communication devices are prohibited by gamblers in the gaming table areas, as well as sound and image recording devices. The casino regulator had previously implemented these bans as guidelines; however, the bill, if passed, will make them law.