Mainland China will soon start issuing smart cards to replace paper permits for people commuting between the mainland and Macau, the official news agency Xinhua reported.
University of Macau gaming and tourism expert Ricardo Siu Chi Sen and consultancy Union Gaming Research Macau Ltd say the move will benefit the city’s casino mass market.
The Ministry of Public Security plans to pilot the new permit in Guangdong province. Authorities have begun accepting applications for the e-permit today, official Xinhua news agency reported.
Similar to an e-passport, users will be able to use the existing e-channels to cross the border between Macau and mainland China. The e-permit is expected to improve efficiency in inspections at checkpoints, Mr Siu said.
Mr Siu said the decision aims to increase mobility within the Pearl River Delta, as envisioned by Beijing. But he expects measures to be introduced to avoid overcrowding in Macau.
The scholar cautions this may be a “long process”, as there is no date for Chinese authorities to start issuing the new e-permits.
Union Gaming said today the e-permit will be available for both individual visitors and tour groups, and apply to both the mainland China and Macau sides of the border.
The Gongbei Border Gate is the main point of entry between Macau and mainland China, and the country’s busiest checkpoint. A total of 14.2 million visitors, or 48.6 percent of the total number of visitors to Macau last year, used the Border Gate checkpoint to enter the city.
Union Gaming expects the e-permit scheme to be gradually extended to other provinces. The research house says the e-permit scheme is “very beneficial” to Macau, as it benefits inbound individual tourists, who are “a much higher quality visitor” from a gross gaming revenue perspective.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings