A new bill governing Macau’s junkets and satellite casinos passed its first reading after being handed over to the Legislative Assembly (AL) for general discussion on Wednesday, gaining 30 votes in favor and just a single vote against.
The bill, titled Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos, is one of a number of important pieces of legislation related to the gaming industry currently working its way through the AL, with amendments to the Macau gaming law (number 16/2001) expected to complete discussion in June.
At Wednesday’s AL meeting, Ron Lam U Tou, who voted against the junket bill, asked how many “satellite casinos” are still in operation and called on the government to “explain the figures”. He also noted that although the law is aimed at the “healthy development of the gaming industry,” it is unacceptable to make changes that will have a serious impact on the local economy. He stressed that the government should “explain clearly” the changes it is making and that “if the government does not have a clear explanation, he will vote against” the bill.
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, responded by pointing out that Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos is about clarifying the systems governing junkets. Lei said the government is not stifling the gaming industry but wants to solve its problems. He emphasized that the government could have opted to reclaim Macau’s gaming venues on 26 June 2022, when the current licenses of Macau’s six concessionaires are due to expire, but did not do so. Instead, the government has promised to extend the licenses by six months until 31 December 2022 by which time it plans to have completed a re-tendering for new licenses.
On the issue of junkets, Lei mentioned that although there are still a few VIP Clubs in operation, their operations differ from previously and do not operate as junkets had been in recent years.
The Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos regulates the business conditions of gaming junkets, partners and management companies. Among its key changes are laws preventing junkets from accepting cash and chip deposits from customers, establishing a specific crime of “unlawful acceptance of deposits”.
Junkets will also be unable to contract special areas of casinos for gaming, meaning there will be no junket-operated dedicated VIP rooms in the future. At the same time, the law expressly prohibits junkets and concessionaires from sharing casino revenue, and prohibits junkets from working with others on a “split commission” basis.