Beijing’s main representative in Macau on Tuesday said “extremely few” corrupt mainland China officials are thought to have gambled in the city.
Li Gang (pictured), director of the Central People’s Government Liaison Office in Macau, acknowledged that the drop in Macau’s gaming revenue seen mostly in the second half of 2014 “could be related” to the mainland’s anti-graft campaign, which is reported in state media to have targeted corrupt officials – including managers gambling with money possibly stolen from state companies.
But Mr Li, who was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a public occasion, said “extremely few” corrupt mainland officials had spent illegally obtained cash at Macau’s gaming tables.
Mr Li also said there were various other reasons for the casino revenue fall seen last year, including the cooling of mainland China’s economy, more casinos opening in neighbouring regions, the stricter visa controls and what he referred to as the “adjustment” of Macau’s gaming industry.
Beijing’s representative also indicated on Tuesday that the Macau government shouldn’t seek to intervene in the casino industry if it “develops healthily”, adding that currently the situation regarding the downturn in gaming revenue “is not so bad” that it needs a helping hand from the central government.
Supporting the Macau government’s already-announced mid-term review of the local gaming industry, Mr Li stressed it should gather public opinions on the six casino operators.
“The main concept [for the review] is that the government has to ensure that the gaming industry develops healthily…not to restrain it when it is diversifying the city’s economy,” the official was quoted as saying by local newspaper Macau Post Daily.
Mr Li also reiterated President Xi Jinping’s call during his official visit to the city in December for Macau to strengthen its oversight of the industry.
“I constantly stress that Macau’s gaming industry should be further regulated…to ensure it develops healthily and [in] orderly [fashion]…meanwhile the city’s economy should be diversified appropriately,” Mr Li added.
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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