It is time for Macau to begin preliminary research on the feasibility of online gaming, according to a local professor researching the Macau gaming industry.
With land-based casinos across the globe feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses, Macao Polytechnic Institute Professor, Dr Zhonglu Zeng, told Inside Asian Gaming the gaming enclave has the necessary conditions in place to look at allowing the launch of small-turnover betting and social gaming licenses.
“One of the biggest concerns is that online gaming is forbidden in mainland China, however, mainland China bans any kind of gambling, right? Macau is a special enclave which allows gambling in China, thus Macau also has the space to explore opportunities for online gaming,” Zeng said.
“Network security could also easily block users from mainland China from accessing Macau’s online gaming platform. It is just a technical issue.”
Regarding any money laundering concerns, Zeng suggests Macau draw upon experience from abroad, pointing specifically to online gaming operations in the United States and United Kingdom.
“Even though the re-tendering of gaming concessionaires would not include the considerations of online gaming, the SAR government should start research and discussion about online gaming in the short-term,” he explained. “For example, to what extent could the mainland Chinese government accept online gaming in Macau? What influence could this have on the physical gaming industries in Macau? 5G and the internet is the way of the future, so Macau should use it to find more opportunities.”
Ahead of today’s first policy address by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, Zeng noted that online gaming would also fulfil the government’s own policy of pursuing diversification of Macau’s economy and gaming industries.
“I expect the CE will definitely require gaming concessionaires to carry out more responsibilities in the diversification of the economy as well as adding more non-gaming elements, and these requirements should be written in the new gaming concessions,” he said.
As MdME’s Carlos Eduardo Coelho noted in the March 2020 edition of IAG, Macau’s gaming framework already references online gaming , referred to as interactive gaming, under Law 16/2001 by which players can participate by means of telecommunications including “telephone, fax, internet, data networks and video or digital data transmission.”
However, the government has not yet issued regulations governing the concession and operation of online gaming, nor has it launched a tender to grant them.