Macau’s gaming industry is going through a metamorphosis of sorts right now that has more than a few people uneasy. The city is implementing new laws that will impact casino operators and their properties and one of the recommendations, in particular, has caused a lot of anxiety. Concerns over funds held by Macau’s casinos have led some to believe that the properties will no longer accept deposits; however, according to several analysts, this won’t be the case.
Macau Casinos to Accept Deposits
Macau’s new gaming laws, which are now undergoing a public review, include language that attempts to ensure all properties better manage anti-money-laundering activity and prevent the use of casino deposits as financial investments. In order to meet these goals, the city wants to eliminate interest-bearing accounts at casinos, which has shaken up some of the largest casino operators in the world. Violations of the new law on casino deposits could result in fines and up to five years in prison.
However, analysts clarify that the casinos won’t be banned from accepting deposits entirely, and that the new rules shouldn’t be taken out of context. GGRAsia spoke with several industry experts, including Ryan Ho Hong Wai of the Macao Polytechnic Institute. He explained, “Casino gaming is a cash-based business, after all. I believe that bona fide patrons would still be able to place their chips and cash for gaming purposes in their non-interest-bearing membership accounts, adhering to the regulatory and record-keeping requirements.”
Another expert, Macau gaming lawyer Bruno Ascenção, added, “The deposit of such funds must solely be used for selling casino gaming chips that the promoter [junket] obtains from the casino operator on credit. Any deposit outside of this scope is illegal.”
Macau Gaming Rules Under Review
As of September 15, Macau’s new gaming laws were put before the public for review. The 45-day period gives local residents and industry insiders an opportunity to voice an opinion over what could ultimately be one of the biggest updates to the city’s gaming industry in years, and there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Although no formal admission has been made, and amid denials that it’s true, some believe that the changes are a result of increased exertion of force coming from China. Violations of the new law on casino deposits could face fines and up to five years in prison.
The inability to provide interest-bearing accounts is likely to hurt junkets the most, but could also impact certain VIP rooms in the city. According to Ho, “This particular industry practice used to be a critical financing source for junkets, and small and mid-sized VIP rooms will have a tough time financing their VIP room operations.” However, the analysts caution that the preliminary language included in the draft of the new laws is likely not the same as what will appear in the final version, and that more changes are going to be included before Macau’s new gaming regime comes into force.