A total of 157 people in Macau registered with the “Central Registry System of Individuals with Gambling Disorder” in 2017, up 11.3 percent from the previous year, said the city’s Social Welfare Bureau in its latest annual report on the subject.
The Macau government uses the central system to gather statistical information about the problem gamblers that seek help, in a bid to understand their gambling habits and behaviour. More than 80 percent of the people seeking government help last year were Macau residents, the report showed.
According to the document, about 90 percent of registered problem gamblers last year are employed. Of those, over 10 percent works as a “dealer/croupier” in the city’s casinos, showed the data.
Officials of the Social Welfare Bureau have said that a proposal by Macau’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – to amend existing legislation so as to bar Macau casino workers from any gaming-related activity inside casinos during non-work hours – could help lower the risk of those employees developing a gambling addiction.
Such amendment to existing legislation is yet to be submitted to the city’s Legislative Assembly.
The Social Welfare Bureau said the majority of the people seeking help in 2017 fall within the age range of 40 to 49, with an average age of 44.2 years.
According to the report, about 70 percent of the problem gamblers had debts; and among those in debt, more than 30 percent stated that their debts amounted to MOP250,000 (US$30,939) or more.
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”I would expect that there might be some clearly-defined criteria … and I’m supportive of a more clearly-defined roadmap for the [gaming] industry”
Co-chairperson and executive director of Macau casino operator MGM China