The participation rate in gambling among Macau residents reached 51.5 percent in 2016, according to a report published by the Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming at University of Macau. That was two percentage points higher than the rate assessed in the previous survey conducted in 2013, said the report.
The 2016 rate however was still lower than the first three studies focused on Macau people’s participation in gambling activities, noted the report.
The study was commissioned last year by Macau’s Social Welfare Bureau in a bid to help the government better to plan its services to prevent and treat gambling disorders. The survey was based on a total of 2,000 telephone interviews with Macau residents aged 18 or above.
Among the 2,000 respondents, only 892 – or 44.6 percent – had participated in commercial gambling in the past 12 months, higher than the 41.6 percent participation rate in the 2013 survey.
The 2016 survey found that the median monthly expenditure on the five most popular forms of gambling increased by 60 percent compared to the previous survey. The average monthly spent on gambling last year increased to MOP808 (US$100) from MOP505 in 2013.
Among the five most popular forms of gambling, the one termed “Macau casino” recorded the highest median monthly gambling expenditure, at MOP500. The participation in casino gambling however continued to drop in the 2016 survey, according to the report.
The survey mainly looked at the participation of Macau residents in gambling activities; their views towards different gambling activities; their understanding of gambling disorders and the prevalence of gambling disorders among Macau’s population, according to the statement.
The survey found that male respondents, aged between 25 and 34, with an employment and with higher monthly personal income “were more likely to participate in gambling activities”.
The results revealed that among the 2,000 respondents, 51 of them – or 2.5 percent of the sample – were classified as “probable disordered gamblers”.
The results also showed that only 43 percent of the respondents were able to explain “gambling disorder” or “problem gambling” accurately.
“There is still room for people to increase their awareness and understanding of gambling disorder,” said the report. “Hence, it is suggested to strengthen the public education on gambling disorder and its related issues so as to reduce the personal and social costs,” it added.
The Social Welfare Bureau is also the government department that issues an annual report of the city’s “Central Registry System of Individuals with Gambling Disorder” – a system that the government uses to gather statistical information about the problem gamblers that seek help, in a bid to understand their gambling habits and behaviour.
A total of 141 people registered with the central system in 2016, according to the bureau’s latest annual report. More than 80 percent of the people seeking government help last year were Macau residents, the report showed.
According to the report, about 80 percent of the problem gamblers had debts; and among those in debt, more than 50 percent stated that their debts amounted to MOP100,000 or more.
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Chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands