Casino operators in Macau will have until July 1 to get rid of unregistered China UnionPay mobile swipe card devices, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reports today.
The newspaper quotes gaming insiders as saying the industry faces a crackdown on the illegal cash-transfer business. The deadline will be set by the Monetary Authority of Macau, it reports.
UnionPay has stepped up control measures to fight the use of bogus transactions to circumvent mainland China’s strict currency-export controls.
Mainland visitors are only allowed to take a daily limit of 20,000 yuan (US$3,212) out of China in cash, but gamblers routinely get around this by purchasing items from one of Macau’s pawnshops or jewellery stores using UnionPay and getting cash back.
South China Morning Post says analysts believe the business could have involved as much as 40 billion yuan last year.
In a statement issued late yesterday, the Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) said it takes effective measures “as necessary” to safeguard the soundness and stability of the city’s financial system.
“During the course of ongoing supervision of card acquiring services by banks, AMCM may, in accordance with any changes in and development of the market, streamline or strengthen relevant risk management and ongoing customers due diligence, with the objective of promoting healthy development of the sector,” it said.
Earlier this week, SJM Holdings Ltd chief executive Ambrose So Shu Fai said the crackdown could curb mass-market gaming revenue in Macau, but not much VIP gaming.
An idea shared by Praveen Choudhary of Morgan Stanley. If gambling funds from pawnshops using UnionPay cards are no longer an option, the premium mass segment could decline, he said.
“Since premium mass contributes more than 30 percent of EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation] for the market, we think that could have a negative impact on profit and stock prices for stocks under our coverage,” Mr Choudhary wrote in a note to clients yesterday.
“Mass table yield, measured in revenue/table/day, could drop from US$25,000 for premium mass to US$9,000 at grind mass tables, a 64 percent decline,” he added.
HSBC and Barclays Bank, however, said the crackdown would have little effect on gaming revenue in Macau. HSBC said it believes that the impact is limited as only unauthorised UnionPay devices are the target of this crackdown, not the territory’s pawnshops.
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”The gambling landscape will continue to evolve, and we must stay vigilant and responsive to emerging trends and technological advancements”
Teo Chun Ching
Chief executive of Singapore’s Gambling Regulatory Authority