Authorities in Macau are ready to assist Mainland China in enforcing a law criminalizing promotions that incite citizens to visit overseas destinations and gamble.
Macau to Assist Mainland China in Combatting Overseas Gambling
Macau will play ball with China’s new law criminalizing certain aspects of the gambling industry, and specifically focusing on tourist agencies organizing trips to gambling destinations, including to the Chinese enclave and main gambling hub in Asia.
A tougher stance on gambling comes at a time when China estimates that there are over 11 million daily gamblers from the mainland who play online.
Speaking on Thursday, Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said that the city is prepared to assist Beijing in tackling any issues related to overseas gambling. The law, which comes into effect on March 1, will target any sort of organized gambling trips in Macau via junkets and other promoting agencies and channels.
Trips to foreign countries will also be targeted. Mr. Lei said that observing the law is a must and Macau should fall in line with any regulation issued by China. He further noted that Macau has also been carrying out some changes to the region’s gambling law, including improving anti-money laundering standards.
Any changes to the regulatory framework are to keep the industry sustainable and healthy in the long-term, he noted. However, Mr. Lei refused to answer a question from GGRAsia, a respected local outlet, as to what specific legal changes will come into effect for junket operators businesses, which model relies on attracting foreign gamblers.
Higher Hopes for Tourism in 2021
On the upside, though, Macau is looking to stabilize gaming revenue and improve on existing results, after the region posted its worst financial year for the casino industry. The outlook is some $16.28 billion in gross gaming revenue (GGR) from casinos in 2021, Mr. Lei added.
The city will also look into various measures to attract more visitors, albeit he cautioned that tourists are yet to return and numbers remain fairly low, albeit Mr. Lei expects tourism is a steady vertical for Macau.
Macau expects to welcome around 14 million tourists from mainland China and Hong Kong alone this year, and the city is planning a number of initiatives that will lead to higher interest from overseas tourists. China also requested ease of restrictions to boost tourism in the region.