Macau’s gaming regulator sees no need to tighten controls over casinos, saying the current regulation is enough to tackle disputes between gaming operators and players.
There were a total of 133 of these incidents between 2012 and May 2014, according to data from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ). “They were mostly incidents that involved minor malfunctions which may include but [are] not limited to problems with slot machine ticket printing or [machines being] out of paper for printing slot machine tickets,” the head of the bureau, Manuel Joaquim das Neves (pictured), told legislators at the city’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
Legislator José Pereira Coutinho had said casinos reportedly refused 133 gamblers their winnings, with operators claiming that their wins were the result of “malfunctions”.
Mr Neves stressed that most of the cases were “minor incidents that did not involve the payment of jackpots”. The regulator was only called to intervene in three cases, he added.
When minor incidents take place, “the usual practice of the gaming concessionaire is to settle the payout with the patron instantly through hand pay by a slot attendant,” the gaming regulator had told GGRAsia in a written reply prior to Mr Neves’ appearance at the assembly.
Some electronic gaming machines (EGM) from Aristocrat Leisure Ltd are switched off in Macau casinos following a player dispute in May. The EGMs were switched off after a player claimed he had won jackpots totalling more than HKD20 million (US$2.58 million) while playing slot machines at the Venetian Macao and MGM casinos within a one-week period.
On Tuesday, DICJ confirmed that two independent gaming machine testing laboratories examined the machines thought to have malfunctioned and confirmed that they had.
“Our conclusion was not based on reports from the concessionaires or based on the checks done by DICJ inspectors, it was based on evidence from the reports done by credible and independent laboratories,” the regulator’s legal advisor, Fernando Vitória, said.
The tests were conducted by Gaming Laboratories International LLC (GLI) and BMM International LLC.
Critics have claimed that cases of non-payment in the event of malfunction damage the image of Macau as an international casino destination. Legislator Au Kam San called for a rewriting of the regulation overseeing the circumstances in which casinos could refuse payment.
“We have at all times operated within the gaming regulations and will follow the direction given by DICJ,” MGM China Holdings Ltd had told GGRAsia.
On Tuesday, Mr Neves said the government couldn’t force concessionaires to pay jackpots if these were the result of malfunctions. He conceded that minor incidents do happen, “but they represent only 0.5 percent” of all EGMs in the Macau market.
There are currently 13,232 EGMs in Macau, according to DICJ.
“Malfunctions [of EGMs] are very rare and there is regulation to tackle these cases,” Mr Neves said.
The government enacted in November 2012 a set of rules concerning the approval of gaming manufacturers, electronic gaming machines and related equipment and gaming systems being supplied to the Macau market.
The city’s top gaming regulator disagreed with Mr Pereira Coutinho’s suggestion that the city should set up its own laboratory to check malfunctioning EGMs.
“Most jurisdictions that had their own laboratories have closed them and now rely on international laboratories. GLI and BMM are recognised by most jurisdictions and their credibility is unquestionable,” Mr Neves said.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China