It has been officially confirmed to the media that Macau casinos have agreed to cooperate with the Chinese government and monitor the actions of members of public office from China while in Macau casinos. Leading up to the National People’s Conference in Beijing, the Macau Legislative Assembly President Ho Iat Seng diverged how the Macau’s central police and other bodies were all instantly aware when a government official from mainland China saunters into the doors of one the casinos.
Ponto Final the Portuguese media house in Macau quoted some Ho lat Seng’s statements as having asserted that certain of these officials have received phone calls directly from their superiors a few moments after being seated at a table. These phone calls are often meant to be confidential and not taken in an open setting. Ho lat Seng further indicated that the Macau authorities had their own internal screening process to determine whether an official needed to be tagged as relevant or not.
The internal screening methods are thought to be utilizing facial recognition technology, based on the fact that face scanning technology was rolled out across Macau at all UnionPay ATM’s in 2017. The reason behind the technology was to help deter the high instance of capital flight by citizens of mainland China who were visiting Macau – Macau is in a unique position within China and does not have the same administrative or legal means, well to an extent.
However, this operation of observing the movements of public officials activities within Macau is not a new concept. Previously, Beijing made it clear that it was monitoring the activities of officials by insisting that at all gambling tables in Macau a valid Identity Document had to be provided. This was how the government would always be aware if officials had traveled to Macau for gambling purposes instead of business reasons.
Why Beijing Is So Determined to Crackdown
Beijing is determined to ensure that there will be no returning back to the days where public officials and the upper management of state-owned enterprises were the big spenders at Macau casinos. These public officials contributed 57% of Macau casinos high roller expenditure and each lost on average $3.3 million. Ho lat Seng felt the control over the government officials pockets were not as tight as they could be. In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping initiated a annihilation of public official gambling, which caused a direct revenue cut for Macau casinos, which lasted for two years.