Macau Assembly Passes Law Targeting Dealer Problem Gambling
Macau’s lawmakers unanimously passed a law which bans all 24,453 casino table game dealers from entering all local casinos for any reason other than work. The 33-member Macau Legislative Assembly passed the law to put a stop to problem gambling among casino staff.
Details remain sparse about the policies the law might cover, but various topics discussed are a problem gambling hotline and fines for those who violate the ban. One top official suggested technology might one day be used to stop dealers from entering casinos.
The Legislative Assembly’s vote is provisional. Three separate committees have the task of devising specific policies involving the casino entrance ban.
Once the committees write the full policies involving the table game dealer ban, the Legislative Assembly will need to pass those measures with a second, binding vote. No time table has been announced for work on the policies or the final legislative vote.
Martins Chan: Casinos to Enforce Rule
Pablo Martins Chan, the director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, said he envisioned several addenda to the original measure. For instance, Martins Chan said he envisions the new law will establish a hotline for casino staff members who deal with problem gambling.
The Gaming Inspection chief did not give many details about implementation of the ban. Pablo Martins Chan said he envisions policy enforcement falling on the individual casino operators themselves, instead of “technological measures“.
Presumably, if the casino-centric policy enforcement is deemed to have failed, then facial recognition technology or fingerprint technology could be employed to enforce the ban.
Learned Lessons from Smoking Ban
Macau faced a similar situation when it instituted a partial smoking ban in January 2015. At the time, the casinos complained that the smoking ban would hurt revenues. It was no surprise that those same casinos did not enforce the smoking ban fully, allowing high rollers to smoke with impunity.
Eventually, Macau authorities received enough complaints from customers, staff members, and activists that they instituted a more serious smoking ban. One can envision a similar scenario playing out, if casinos take a lax view of the dealer ban.
$125 to $1,230 Fines for Violations
One report suggested that the legislation would impose $125 to $1,230 on those found to have violated the ban. Those fines would be assessed one calendar year after the ban goes into effect.
Given the size of the fines, the measures appear to be directed at the dealers and not the casino.
Why Casino Dealers Cannot Be Problem Gamblers
The Legislative Assembly’s ban on casino dealers’ is based on more than moral considerations. Dealers cannot be problem gamblers, because it leads to a variety of related problems.
Problem gambling can lead to financial distress or bankruptcy, which in turn makes table game dealers vulnerable to casino cheats. Cheating in a modern 21st century casino is difficult, but it becomes much simpler if the cheat has inside help from the dealer.
Non-Dealers Might Be Included Eventually
GGRAsia reported that the assembly might pass a ban which would encompass a wider range of casino employees. The report suggested that staff members like cashiers, surveillance staff members, food and beverage workers, and cleaning crew members. If so, then the eventual ban might involve as many as 57,200 people, according to Macau’s Statistics and Census Bureau.
Macau’s officials are trying to avoid any appearance of impropriety or misconduct from their gaming operators. In 2020, licensing for all six of the major casino operators in Macua comes up for review. While it is the Macau officials who will decide gaming matters, the Beijing government is going to have influence on the process.
At present, President Xi Jinping’s government is considering laws which might allow full legalization of casinos on Hainan Island, a tropical island in the South China Sea. Five Hainan hotels can house casino-style games, though they cannot hand out cash winnings. Instead, players receive gift cards for businesses in the Hainan area. Eventually, though, the Hainan resorts might be allowed to offer real money casino gambling, which would undercut all that Macau’s business and political leaders have built over the past 15 years.
In such light, any policies which could clean up Macau’s casino industry might help in the run-up to the key licensing decisions a couple of years from now.