The Macau authorities have launched investigations into seven cases related to online gaming during the first half of 2019, says Sit Chong Meng, director of Macau’s Judiciary Police.
Mr Sit said additionally that the police had not found any online gaming platforms that were being operated from Macau, noting such websites were typically based in other jurisdictions.
The official was speaking on Thursday on the sidelines of a public occasion. Mr Sit explained that the seven cases were being investigated because they made use of Macau’s name to promote their businesses, when in fact online gaming is illegal in Macau.
The head of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, Paulo Martins Chan, has said that between 2016 and 2018 the bureau had identified “more than 500 illicit gaming websites” and had communicated with the respective website hosts in order to have the sites taken down, resulting in what he termed the “shelving” of about 300 of them.
Macau authorities say that they have for some time been stepping up their efforts against illegal online gaming. The topic has been in the public agenda recently following reports by Chinese state-backed media, which alleged that the Suncity Group brand had been involved in operating an online gaming platform for play outside Macau.
Suncity has publicly denied the online gaming allegations, adding that even if certain “products” were “legally allowed to operate in other countries and regions, the company will not adopt them if the laws of Macau do not allow it”.
Macau’s casino regulator has told GGRAsia that on July 10 it conducted “inspection” work at seven of the city’s casinos where junket operations – including those of Suncity Group – were being pursued, and found “no irregular activities”.
Lionel Leong Vai Tac, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, and who also has an oversight role for the city’s casino sector, told reporters this week that Macau’s casino operators – as well as the city’s licensed junket promoters – had to comply with laws in Macau in order to carry out their local businesses.
Mr Leong pointed out that the Macau government had responded in a timely manner in order to follow up on cases where companies were thought to have acted against the city’s legislation. He added the government remained in close contact with the gaming sector, in order to have “a sound grasp” of the latest developments in business within the sector.
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“Amendment to the gaming law is still a work in progress ... We need to wait for further details, in terms of the finer form that the amendments will take, and there will be additional regulatory measures that will be potentially issued thereafter”
Chief operating officer of Sands China