Macau lawmaker believes the DICJ is too cozy with casino operators

Poker chips

A Legislative Assembly member in Macau believes the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ, for its Portuguese acronym) is too cozy with Macau’s casino operators. It would be hard not to have a close relationship, since the DICJ works with the six entities work on almost a daily basis, but José Pereira Coutinho thinks it goes beyond maintaining a necessary working connection. He accuses the DICJ of “permanent collusion” with the casino operators.

Coutinho wants Ho Iat Seng, Macau’s chief executive, to step in and play a bigger role in the DICJ’s operations, at least as far as some activity is concerned. He feels that casinos have too much leeway when it comes to how they treat their employees and that the DICJ is, directly or indirectly, facilitating their ability to pressure staff into resigning to avoid being fired. A portion of that group of employees includes former nonresident casino workers who now just “drift about the streets of the city, some asking for money to buy food, and others asking for support from local associations,” according to a statement made by the legislator.

There are also “systematic abuses” going on that the government knows about, but of which it has no interest in curtailing, explains Coutinho. He adds, “Incredibly, the government is aware of these situations, but it does not act in time to alleviate the suffering of the workers made redundant… One cannot understand why the competent authorities in the area of the Secretariat for Economy and Finance close their eyes to these systematic abuses as if they had nothing to do with their professional skills, obligations, and responsibilities. The abuses practiced by some gambling concessionaires have been widely denounced … [but] the competent authorities, out of stubbornness, do not intervene and are not even interested in knowing.”

It isn’t clear what the legislator bases his accusations on, but there is mounting concern that some businesses in Macau aren’t taking their employee responsibility issues seriously enough. A report surfaced earlier this week that one satellite casino, which is tied to an unidentified casino operator, has been strongarming some employees into taking early retirement so it can avoid looking like a bad guy. It has also resorted to threatening them if they don’t comply. However, there has been no indication that the DICJ had previous knowledge of the activity before it was revealed to Macau’s Labour Affairs Bureau.

Macau is getting a new Legislative Assembly this year, just ahead of the introduction of new casino concessions, currently expected to happen next year, and new gaming regulations. The COVID-19 situation has forced the city to take a closer look at its long-term economic and financial goals, and it would appear that the stage is being set for major changes in the local gaming market.