Macau’s casino regulator has confirmed to GGRAsia that table gambling while standing (pictured in a pre-pandemic file photo) is being allowed again on the city’s casino floors, with the condition that – unlike pre- Covid-19 days – such standing players stay at least 1 metre (3.3 feet) apart for safety reasons.
But a local labour group told GGRAsia the return of standing betting had caused difficulties for table dealers, as it was hard for them to get players to keep the necessary distance apart.
In a Wednesday email in response to GGRAsia’s enquiry, the regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, said the return of standing betting – a popular activity among Asian players who often like to take part in the action at a table already full of seated players, according to industry observers – started “before the Chinese New Year” in February, in view of “apparently lower risks associated with mainland China’s Covid-19” situation.
The regulator, also known as DICJ, affirmed standing patrons “need to” keep “at least a 1-metre distance” between each other, to protect the “safety and health” of the people at the gaming venue.
In mid-February 2020, the regulator had stated table betting while standing would no longer be allowed, as part of several social distancing measures imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lifting now of the standing-bets ban had been first reported on Wednesday by Portuguese-language newspaper, Jornal Tribuna de Macau.
Jeremy Lei Man Chao, vice-director of New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association, told GGRAsia the return of such play had been “problematic” in practice for casino staff.
“We heard many cases where dealers were arguing with the mainland China patrons over that 1-metre distance rule for doing standing bets,” Mr Lei said to GGRAsia.
“It is unrealistic to ask the standing patrons to keep a 1-metre distance apart from each other and have them to stick to it – it is really not as easy to do it, as is [it would be] in the case of seated patrons,” he added.
Mr Lei said his association had on Wednesday afternoon written to the gaming regulator, expressing the concerns of table games dealers. “If the Covid-19 risks are much lower now as the government says, why not just relax the rules for the standing bets?” i.e., allow people to be fewer than 1 metre apart, Mr Lei remarked.
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