Why New Gambling Laws Approved in Macau Could be Devastating

| June 23, 2022 11:36 am PDT
  • New gambling law reforms are set to radically change how gamblers can bet in the Chinese Special Administrative Region.
  • These reforms are heavily focused on casino gaming in the region and will be the first significant changes of their kind since 2002.
  • The former Portuguese trading post has been a super destination for gamblers from mainland China and across the globe for decades.

As previously expected, existing gambling laws in Macau are set to dramatically change following the introduction of a new gambling law bill.

The city’s legislature passed controversial laws that will grant the Chinese government greater access and presence in one of the world’s largest gambling hubs. On Tuesday, the Macau Legislative Assembly passed the bill following a final vote. This effectively means that operators in the region will see their current licenses expire this year.

In March, it was confirmed that some casinos would have to cough up almost $10 million apiece for six-month license extensions. Once existing licenses expire, officials will enter the process of approving new licenses for eligible parties. 

With more overarching power for Macau officials, these changes could put foreign operators currently operating in the region under enhanced pressure. Here’s a look at what you can expect from the new gaming laws in Macau.

Are Macau’s Gaming Laws Prohibitive or Progressive?

That depends on the party line, so to speak. 

In many ways, there is a sense of foreboding doom and justifiable apprehension for those currently operating casinos and gaming resorts in the region. Under these new laws, Macau officials now have the power to crack the whip seemingly when and where they please.

From punishing operators that are perceived to be falling short of acceptable revenue to potential penalties based on threats to national security, Macau’s new casino laws aren’t exactly what you could consider laissez-faire.

In addition to stricter controls and more aggressive government intervention and supervision, gaming taxes have been raised. Albeit by just one percent.

But what will hit current operators hard is that new-issue licenses will be valid for up to a period of 10 years. This was previously set at a maximum of 20 years.

Rather than being progressive moves in the interest of expanding current gaming operations in the region, the new legislation appears to be a deterrent rather than an attractive option for foreign investment. 

But it’s not just overseas companies that are suffering due to what has been referred to as “draconian laws” in some quarters.

With just $413m in gaming revenues last month, Macau posted an almost 90 percent drop in takings from pre-pandemic levels. Much of this has to do with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy. One that he has warned anyone against questioning.

Are Macau’s Days as an International Gambling Hub Over?

It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the current state of play in casino gaming in the region is looking grim.

With Beijing focused on cracking down on what it perceives to be activities of vice, it could be the end of Macau as we know it. Rather than relying on gambling revenue, Jinping wants the nation to point the gun at excessive wealth in an attempt to edge closer toward his “common prosperity” ideologies

With medicine, technology, finance, and tourism part of this focus, China has waged war on gambling. Therefore, you can’t expect anyone with knowledge of the new gaming law changes in Macau to perceive it as anything but a push toward complete and utter state control.

Six existing gaming operators in Macau are expected to receive temporary license extensions. This is until details of the new tendering process are made clear.

Officials still need to agree on measures such as fees, long-term commitment, and other, more sensitive information, before they will rubber-stamp deals.

With Macau currently fighting a Covid outbreak, it appears that there is little optimism that the once-revered hub of gambling will be back on its feet any time soon. Although the odds for the region making a full recovery to pre-pandemic levels of revenue are slim.

Those looking to play at real money online casinos outside of Macau need not worry about their access to their favorite games. But it appears a seismic shift for gamblers in the former Portuguese colony has just hit.

Adam Haynes
Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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