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Macau casinos to be allowed to take deposits from patrons as long as no monetary interest is offered

Chan Chak Mo, president of Macau's Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL), announced Friday that the revised version of the city's bill that regulates casino operations —part of a larger package of new gaming laws— provides that concessionaires may take deposits from patrons in cash, chips, or other cash transfer methods.

Additionally, casino concessionaires may also keep casino earnings in accounts established at the casino cashiers. However, concessionaires would be banned from "providing the gamblers any monetary interest" for the accounts established.

The clarification was included in the new version of the bill that was sent by the government to the AL, where the bill is now undergoing detailed analysis at the second standing committee. However, the creation and maintenance of these accounts are restricted to the operators that are subject to anti-money laundering, counterterrorism financing, and other regulations. This would confirm that the source of the money deposited by the patrons is legitimate, Chan said, as reported by Macau Daily Times.

Additionally, it was explained that no transfers of funds between accounts will be permitted and no other entities such as gaming promoters (junkets) can participate in this model. The casino concessionaires must not offer any interest or compensation to patrons in exchange for keeping money in these accounts.

Chan explained that the intention of these accounts is to remove the need for patrons to carry money and other valuables with them while traveling, and the accounts may only be provided by the casino as a service.

Concessionaires found offering capital interest or other monetary rewards to players in return for holding their money or gambling chips would be considered as being involved in an act of "illegal taking of deposits." According to the bill, this is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The purpose of the bill is to prevent unlawful operations that have occurred in the past, mostly from the so-called VIP rooms operated by junkets that offered high interests in exchange for deposits of gamblers and other people. In the past, several issues occurred with these kinds of deposits that resulted in accusations of fraud and scams. The issues also led to the loss of millions of patacas from depositors.

Regarded as a bill that mostly regulates the operation of junkets, this bill is currently under evaluation by the second standing committee. It is hoped that the bill’s final reading and approval will occur this legislative year, in October or mid-November, further reports the cited source.

The news comes after an announcement last week stating that the city's casino industry is showing early signs of recovery after the gaming hub experienced its worst Covid-19 outbreak yet. The latest data shows average daily gaming increased to MOP36 million (US$4.5 million) last week, according to channel checks carried out by brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein.

During the period between August 1 and August 7, local casinos generated a total of MOP250 million ($30.9 million). The latest numbers show recovery, after the city’s gross gaming revenue fell 95% to 398 million patacas ($49 million) in July, 98% lower than pre-pandemic levels, representing the worst month ever since records began in 2009.


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