Two Macau gaming labour groups say they support the introduction of rules banning gaming workers from casino floors outside work hours. They say the move could help curb problem gambling among casino employees, particularly card dealers.
The potential ban has been mentioned by the head of Macau’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ.
Representatives from Forefront of Macao Gaming and Power of the Macao Gaming Association respectively told GGRAsia that they supported the move. The latter group will meet with the city’s casino regulator on June 30 to discuss the matter, director Lei Iok Po said.
“We definitely support a ban on casino employees taking part in any sort of gaming activities, especially employees working at [casino] gaming tables,” said Mr Lei.
“We have witnessed many cases of dealers that entered a cycle of accumulating big [amounts of] gaming debt, [by] borrowing heavily to gamble and losing all the money,” added Mr Lei, who is also a casino floor supervisor.
He added: “Casino dealers are much more prone to this condition because they are very exposed to casino table gambling; many of them believe they can win just as their clients do, but later they eventually turn into problem gamblers.”
Power of the Macao Gaming Association’s Mr Lei and the head of Forefront of Macao Gaming, Ieong Man Teng, both admitted that it would be “complex” to implement rules in Macau banning gaming workers from casino floors outside work hours. The city has more than 30 casinos and it is not compulsory to show a valid identification document to get into a casino; only upon request from a security staff.
Mr Lei and Mr Ieong respectively added that rules barring gaming workers from entering the city’s casinos to gamble would need to clearly state the job categories covered by the ban.
Miguel Luis Castilho, a legal advisor from DICJ, said in a public forum last month that the local authorities were mulling rules banning gaming workers from casino floors outside work hours.
A similar ban already exists for the city’s civil servants, who usually are only authorised to gamble in casinos during the Chinese New Year holiday period. It is also common practice in the local industry for gaming operators to bar their own staff from gambling on company premises.
Speaking to reporters at a public event on Sunday, DICJ director Paulo Martins Chan said his bureau was studying barring casino workers from entering the city’s casinos to gamble. A decision on the mater could be made still this year, he added.
“We’ll see what everyone’s opinion is, gather our legal team’s studies, then we’ll move on with our works,” Mr Chan said on the potential ban. He added that DICJ would meet with the city’s gaming labour groups over the next few weeks to collect their opinions on the matter.
On the same occasion, Mr Chan also said the Macau government would make a decision on the future of the city’s dog racing track before the end of 2016. His bureau already had received a study conducted by the Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming at University of Macau on dog racing betting in the city, Mr Chan added.
Macau’s dog racing track is located on the Macau peninsula and is operated by Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome Co Ltd. The firm’s licence on dog racing betting expires at the end of this year. Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome is part of the business empire built by Stanley Ho Hung Sun, founder of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd.
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Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts