Representatives from 11 Macau casino worker groups broadly back a government suggestion that casino workers be barred from taking part in any gaming-related activity inside casinos during non-work hours.
Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by the Portuguese acronym DICJ, said so in a statement following a Thursday meeting with casino worker representatives. The meeting was to hear the groups’ opinions regarding possible revisions by the government to a law that regulates who can enter, work and gamble in the city’s casinos, DICJ said.
The statute in question is “Law No. 10/2012 – Regulating the Conditions of Entering, Working and Gaming at Casinos”, according to a press statement issued on Friday by DICJ.
The DICJ’s statement, citing DICJ director Paulo Martins Chan, said the government always “pays close attention to the possibility of negative influences affecting the community as a result of exposure to gaming”, and will “enhance legislation in order to promote a healthy and sustainable development of the industry”.
In the statement, DICJ also noted that it would meet with representatives of the city’s gaming operators; and with groups promoting responsible gaming; in order to listen to their opinions on the suggested revision of the law.
On Friday, a press briefing by Macau’s Judiciary Police said 10 people had been arrested for alleged involvement in loan-sharking that targeted local casino workers, most of them table games dealers. The police added they had been investigating the matter since February, as the result of information they had received. The date of the arrests was not mentioned in the briefing. It did outline however that the 10 people detained were suspected of being involved in casino loan-sharking – illegally advancing money for gambling – over a six-year period. At least 120 people were victims of such activity, according to local media reports.
The suspects allegedly targeted casino dealers because they were thought to be more at risk than other members of the community when it came to gambling addiction, reported on Friday MASTV, a local Chinese-language television station, citing commentary from the Judiciary Police.
Support for ban
Ieong Man Teng, president of local gaming worker activist group Forefront of Macao Gaming, on Friday told GGRAsia his organisation was one of the 11 labour groups that met with DICJ on Thursday.
Mr Ieong added that during the meeting, Forefront of Macao Gaming presented the results of a survey it had conducted among the public. The results indicated that among the casino employees responding to the poll, most supported a ban on such workers gambling in the city’s casinos, Mr Ieong told GGRAsia.
The survey was said to have been conducted via online questionnaires a week ahead of the labour representatives’ meeting with DICJ. It reportedly collected responses from 4,000 local residents, of which 76 percent, or 3,044 people, were casino and hotel workers. Forefront of Macao Gaming currently officially has 100 members, according to Mr Ieong, but says it has wider support among the casino workforce.
Of the 3,044 casino and hotel workers surveyed by the organisation, 77 percent of them supported a ban on such employees being allowed to gamble in the city’s casinos, said Mr Ieong.
More than half of all the people polled suggested that such a ban should cover not only casino dealers, but also pit supervisors, cage employees and casino workers employed in surveillance duties.
Currently, casino operators in Macau typically bar their own workers from gambling in their own workplace, whether off-duty or on-duty.
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"The MSAR [Macau Special Administrative Region] Government is always maintaining its policy not to have imported labour to work as dealers. This position has not changed"
Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance