March 19, 2024 3 min read


MGM Critiques Macau’s Foreigner-Only Zones, Highlights Solution

The foreigner-only zones required gamblers to be separated in private rooms, something that MGM Resorts resolved by using innovative chip tracking technology

Casino gambling, wagering on sports and iGaming activities are prohibited in China. The country has tough laws when it comes to gambling, but an exception is applied to Macau, a popular tourist destination and a special administrative region (SAR) of China.

Although the city offers casino gambling, the crackdown against the activity extended from China with a request for Macau to implement foreigner-only gambling halls. This came in an effort to track their activities and determine what part of the operators’ revenue comes from foreign tourists.

Details regarding the new requirement first emerged a couple of years ago toward the end of 2022. Despite the requirement, separating foreign casino visitors was significantly unpopular and the gambling operators quickly identified this trend along with the need for an effective way to track the activities of foreign visitors.

Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts’ CEO and president, participated in the J.P. Morgan Gaming, Lodging, Restaurant and Leisure Management Access Forum, as announced by IAG. During the event on Friday, the executive spoke about the ineffectiveness of the foreigner-only gambling zones, uncovering details regarding an innovative solution the company used to tackle the issue.

Hornbuckle said that with the implementation of the new requirements for foreigner-only visitors, operators faced a challenge as they had to establish private rooms for gamblers from different jurisdictions. This otherwise separated the visitors and turned out to be a significantly unpopular method.

The Chip in Chip Technology Brings Benefits

Addressing the need to track the gambling activities of foreign gamblers in Macau, MGM Resorts implemented a new “chip in chip” program. The company’s CEO and president spoke about the benefits of this technology, outlining that it allows the venue to track every chip and at the same time reduce gaming errors. According to Hornbuckle, the technology also played an important role in the back-end operations, including financing and accounting.

We put in a ‘chip in chip’ program several years ago where basically every chip is tracked, and the benefit at the time was no errors to the game, you knew exactly where to put your labor, there were a bunch of back-end benefits as well in terms of accounting and financing, and it was meaningful.

Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and president at MGM Resorts

Calling the technology a huge advantage, the executive said that tracking the activities of foreign players is easy. At the same time, Hornbuckle said that customers from different jurisdictions are not separated from each other, which contributes to the customer experience. Finally, MGM Resorts’ boss said that the gambling regulator in Macau approves the technology considering its effectiveness.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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