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Fiona Simmons December 12, 2023 3 min read
New Macau Bill Seeks to Ban iGaming and Outlaw Parallel Betting
The measure also envisions much harsher penalties for businesses that offer illegal gambling products
Macau continues to crack down on illegal gambling and is planning to introduce a new ban on online gambling amid rising gambling-related crime rates. While online gambling has never been legal in the country, the current laws were introduced a long time ago and are already fairly outdated.
Under a proposed new legislative bill, introduced by the region’s secretary for administration and justice André Cheong Weng Chon, online betting will be explicitly banned. The measure also envisions much harsher penalties for businesses that offer illegal gambling products, as well as a ban on parallel betting.
The bill will essentially modernize Macau’s law on illegal gambling, aligning it with the modern age. For reference, Macau’s current law came into force in 1996. It will be submitted to the Macau Legislative Assembly for review and debate, allowing the body to decide whether to sign it into law.
The Bill Envisions Up to Eight Years of Prison for Violators
If Macau’s government passes the new bill, unlicensed online gambling operators risk fines, regardless of whether their operations are based in Macau or not. Currently, those who run illicit gambling operations can land in prison for up to three years. Under the new bill, illegal operators will risk between one and eight years of prison time.
To make sure that the police are able to enforce this new law, the bill would allow officers to conduct raids of private homes at night without permission from the residents.
In addition to harsher penalties for illegal gambling operators, the new bill would introduce a definitive ban on parallel betting, a type of activity often offered by Macau’s junket operators. For reference, parallel betting is a type of illicit activity where players bet a sum of money while agreeing with the operator that all bets are, in reality, of higher value. Alternatively, bettors might place bets in a certain currency with the understanding that the bet’s actual value is in a different currency.
Parallel betting allows certain customers to circumvent China’s restrictions on the amount of currency they can bring with them into Macau. While this type of gambling benefits certain affluent customers, it results in less revenue for gambling operators, and by extension less tax revenue for Macau.
While parallel betting, sometimes also called side betting, is not legal, it hasn’t been explicitly outlawed yet and is regularly offered by Macau’s junket operators.