Macau’s consolidating bill that covers licensing and regulatory matters for the city’s junket operators and so-called satellite casinos, is now likely to be given a second and final reading and be passed, at a Legislative Assembly plenary session either in “October or mid November”.
A newly-proposed article in the bill, revealed on Friday, says casino concessionaires would themselves still be allowed to “provide an account to gamblers for depositing their cash, gaming chips or other forms of payments for the purpose of gambling”, but concessionaires would be banned from “providing the gamblers any monetary interest” for the accounts established.
The information was given by veteran local legislator Chan Chak Mo, who heads a committee tasked with scrutinising the bill. He was speaking to the media following a Friday closed-door meeting of the committee, attended by government officials, led by Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong.
This year, the assembly is due to have an annual break during September. The provisions of the bill, once it is passed, would come into effect at the same time as a new round of up to six, 10-year, gaming concessions that are likely to start in January.
According to the bill, it would no longer be possible for an individual to be licensed as a ‘gaming promoter’, as junkets are known in Macau. Only Macau-incorporated companies would be eligible to apply. Each Macau junket would only be allowed to work with a single Macau casino concessionaire, and would be forbidden to share casino revenue with the partnering concessionaire.
The bill also proposes criminal penalties against what the government terms “illegal taking of deposits” from the general public by junket operators or ‘management companies’. The latter are entities that historically have provided management services at so-called satellite casinos.
The bill says anyone involved in “illegal taking of deposits” could face up to five years in prison.
The deposit practice that will be permitted for casino concessionaires, should abide by rules on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism, to ensure a gaming patron’s source of funds is “clean”, legislator Mr Chan stated.
“Concessionaires are keeping their gaming patrons’ cash or gaming chips in their accounts, which is a current practice,” said Mr Chan. “So, by the new article, they can [continue to] do so as long as those accounts are not generating any interest payment [to the patron].”
Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, also has the authority to set annually a maximum number of junkets that each casino concessionaire is permitted to have as a partner, the bill states.
The criteria for setting the cap is based on Macau government’s consideration of the city’s “overall policy for the gaming industry”, “the scale of the junket sector” and the “operation status of each casino concessionaire,” said Mr Chan, citing the government’s explanation.
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