Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd has yet to install any facial recognition technology at the company’s properties. So said chief executive Ambrose So Shu Fai (pictured in a file photo).
“We don’t have those devices installed in our premises,” Mr So told reporters on Friday.
“Of course, we would like to make use of every [piece of] high technology in order to improve the efficiency of the operation,” he added, in comments carried by public broadcaster TDM.
“It has to be done under the regulations and laws in Macau,” Mr So stressed.
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – also known by its Portuguese-language acronym DICJ – said last week that the use of facial recognition technology needed government approval before it could be introduced on an operational basis inside the city’s gaming venues. At the moment, “two to three” gaming operators were testing such technology in the Macau market, confirmed at the time the head of Macau’s casino regulator, Paulo Martins Chan.
The casino regulator had affirmed in a June statement emailed to GGRAsia that “some” of the Macau’s casino concessionaires were using facial recognition technology inside their gaming venues.
Casino promoter Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd had stated in April – in its Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2018 – it was “preparing to install the latest generation” of facial recognition technology in its venues in Macau and Manila this year.
In his Friday comments to reporters, SJM Holdings’ Mr So also commented on the case involving reports by Chinese state-backed media which alleged that Macau junket investor Suncity Group had been involved in operating an online gaming platform for play outside Macau. Suncity Group 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”.
Mr So praised the Macau regulator for hosting a series of meetings with representatives from the city’s casino sector just a few days after the media reports.
“It was a very timely measure by DICJ to call the attention of all operators [that] if they want to operate in Macau… they have to abide by the laws in Macau,” he said. “DICJ made it very clear that they cannot violate the law, in making Macau a base to do promotion and internet services for other casinos elsewhere.”
The regulator had stated it had – during a meeting with casino operator representatives following the Suncity Group case – urged firms to “strictly monitor” the operations of the junket operators they work with. DICJ added at the time it stressed casino operators should ensure such junkets would not use casino operations in Macau to promote online or phone betting, both of which are illegal in the city.
In his Friday remarks, Mr So said SJM Holdings currently only had business ties with Suncity Group at a third-party-managed casino – such venues are also known in Macau as ‘satellite casinos’. He did not identify the property.
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Francis Lui Yiu Tung
Vice chairman of Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group