Macau legislators are to ask the city’s government to clarify the proposed crime of “illegal taking of deposits” in the context of the long-standing and well-recognised activity of obtaining money from the general public by either gaming-industry related “management companies”, junket operators, or the “collaborators” of junkets, according to Tuesday comments by veteran legislator Chan Chak Mo.
Such proposed crime is part of a consolidating bill - “Regime for the exploitation of games of chance” – that covers licensing and regulatory matters for those three types of entities serving the gaming industry.
An assembly committee led by Mr Chan and tasked with scrutinising the bill, held closed-door discussion about it on Tuesday. Following the meeting, Mr Chan briefed reporters regarding the main doubts the committee’s members had about the bill, in particular the definition of the “illegal taking of deposits”.
According to the bill, any junket operator, management company, or collaborator that either “requests”, “solicits”, or “accepts” a deposit in the form either of cash, gaming chips, or other kind of funds from others, with the intention of “obtaining benefits related to games of chance in a casino”, could face a penalty of imprisonment ranging from two to five years.
“Many [legislators] have asked: what is the definition of an [illegal] deposit?” said Mr Chan. “Is such deposit defined as illegal if it is interest-bearing, or does it count players’ winnings lodged with the junkets?”
Mr Chan’s committee also had questions about the government’s criteria for deciding annually the cap on the number of junket operators with which each gaming concessionaire can partner, as well as an annual cap on the number of collaborators – also known traditionally as junket sub-agents, but not previously treated as licensable entities – authorised to work in the Macau market.
The collaborators are defined in the bill as individuals that assist in junkets’ gaming promotion business. A March discussion between Mr Chan’s committee and several government delegates heard that the Macau government had considered allowing only Macau ID holders to work as collaborators.
But the consolidating bill as presented to the assembly has no such legal proposal. “In the bill, there are no changes made to the existing rules” in that regard, said Mr Chan. He added: “That means, non-Macau residents should be allowed to work [as collaborators].”
The legislators would like to understand the government change of stance on the collaborators topic, Mr Chan added.
The legislator said he assumed that the government might want “some flexibility” in regulatory terms for allowing foreign collaborators to work in the Macau market in order to cater to patrons coming from overseas.
The bill states that the criteria for collaborators include that: the individual has to be at least 21 years old; and he or she also has to obtain a statement from a junket operator indicating they are to enter into a collaboration contract.
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