Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ, aims next year to introduce new regulation for electronic table games (ETGs), the bureau’s director Paulo Martins Chan told reporters on Sunday.
“We don’t agree with people that say there is limitless growth to the number of electronic table games. We do have regulations regarding those [games],” Mr Chan said at a public event, when asked to comment over the nature of electronic gaming tables.
In the Macau regulatory context, “technical standards” and “regulations” are different things: the former is detailed information drafted by the regulator regarding the configuration of equipment; the latter refers to the policy framework under which gaming products or gaming market segments are regulated.
Union Gaming Research Macau Ltd had said in a May 2015 report that – as of that date – the Macau gaming regulator was allowing between 50 and 60 ETG seats to count as equivalent to one traditional gaming table for the purposes of Macau’s table cap.
The Macau government’s table cap aims to limit the increase in live dealer table numbers in the Macau market to 3 percent compound annual expansion until the end of 2022, from a base of 5,485 tables recorded at the end of the fourth quarter in 2012.
Commenting to reporters on Sunday, Mr Chan, who in December took over leadership of the gaming regulator, said: “We’ll be doing [introducing] regulation [for electronic gaming tables] – this is not in our work plan for this year, but next year,” Mr Chan said.
According to information from the regulator, casino gross gaming revenue from live multi game – a category of electronic table using a live dealer but electronic betting and bet settlement – rose 11.5 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2016, to MOP562 million (US$70.25 million), from MOP504 million in the prior-year period.
In the same period, mass-market casino GGR – mostly from live dealer baccarat and also including live multi game – contracted by 1.1 percent, albeit from a much higher revenue base than live multi game.
Mr Chan said the reason that the gaming bureau plans to wait until next year before revising the regulation for electronic gaming tables is that it is currently preparing amendments to the city’s casino entry rules with reference in particular to local residents.
The government has suggested that as part of the legal revision casino workers should be barred from taking part in any gaming-related activity inside casinos during non-work hours.
Mr Chan added that the casino regulator is currently dealing with new rules regarding regulation of the city’s VIP gaming promoters, organisations also known as junkets.
Speaking on the sidelines of a public event, Mr Chan also stressed that any decisions the gaming regulator makes regarding projects from casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd are “separate” from the bureau’s recent request that Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome Co Ltd relocate its greyhound racing track within two years or shut down operations.
Yut Yuen is part of the business empire built by casino entrepreneur Stanley Ho Hung Sun, founder of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings. Angela Leong On Kei, fourth consort of Mr Ho, currently heads Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome. She is also an executive director of SJM Holdings.
“I think these are two separate matters. And the entities running them are two different companies – though they have some overlapping members,” Mr Chan said, adding “as these two [Macao Yut Yuen and SJM Holdings] are separate, we’re going to consider them [their proposals] case by case.”
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings