Macau’s Office for Personal Data Protection has told GGRAsia that it has not yet received any formal application from the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters, regarding the latter’s plan to collect personal data from junket customers and share the information among members via a central credit database.
Such a move would be a significant departure from Macau’s traditional VIP gambling business model, where junkets and agents closely guarded player information on VIP players for fear of them being poached by rival middlemen. But in the light of the need better to manage credit risk amid the downturn in Macau’s VIP gambling business; and the desire of the local and central government better to monitor the sector, the proposal appears to have some appeal to gaming promoters.
The suggested database is designed in particular to keep track of the gambling credit issued to individual players; some of whom may seek lines of credit from several gaming promoters.
“The office has indeed received an enquiry from the association, and we have answered their enquiry according to law,” the data protection office stated in a email to us on Tuesday.
“But until now, we have only received some preliminary information [on the proposal] submitted by the association. We have not yet received any formal application or more detailed information [regarding the association's plan],” the email added.
According to the city’s Personal Data Protection Law, the operation of any database that involves an automated system processing personal information requires an application from the Office for Personal Data Protection, that bureau additionally explained to us.
Kwok Chi Chung, president of the gaming promoters’ association, told GGRAsia last week that his group hoped to launch its data collection initiative before the end of January, pending government approval.
Mr Kwok added that the association’s data collection system had already undergone technical testing.
The main purpose of the junket credit database would be to help VIP gaming promoters to identify players with outstanding debt related to credit extended to them by other junkets in Macau.
When asked to comment on the legality of the association’s proposed central credit database, the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ – issued a written reply to GGRAsia.
It stated: “DICJ supports measures that promote the healthy development of the Macau gaming industry. We have maintained close communication with the association regarding the credit database that the association is [proposing] setting up, and stressed that their database must comply with Macau’s personal data protection rules.”
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"Given the opaque nature of the VIP segment (56 percent of gross gaming revenue in first quarter 2017), forecasting Macau GGR with a fair amount of certainty is difficult; therefore, we remain cautious"