Stricter Gambling Regulations in Macau the Target of New Legislation

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The Macau government is taking a firm stance against illegal gambling activities with the proposal of a new law, the "Law to Combat Gambling Crimes." This draft bill, which first appeared in December and was recently published by the Legislative Assembly, aims to update the language of the Chinese special administrative region's (SAR) current Illegal Gambling Regime.

Getting Tougher on Crime

One of the key provisions of the proposed law is the introduction of jail terms ranging from one to five years for anyone acting as a loan shark for gambling in casino premises. The bill also suggests harsher penalties for serious violations, such as demanding the forfeiture of an ID card as a type of guarantee for a loan. Doing so could result in a prison sentence of two to eight years.

In addition to imprisonment, the bill proposes fines for violators ranging from MOP$50 to MOP$10,000 (US$6 to US$1,240). Furthermore, non-residents of Macau convicted of the crimes outlined in the Law to Combat Gambling Crimes could be expelled or banned from Macau for up to 10 years.

The proposed law also targets a wide range of gambling-related offenses, including illegal exploitation of games of chance, online gambling, illicit lottery, coercion of another person to gamble and fraudulent gambling. Those found guilty of these crimes could be considered part of a "secret association or society," which is used synonymously with Chinese triads. Such relationships could result in significant prison sentences.

Moreover, the bill aims to increase the jail sentences and duration of preventive detention for gambling crimes. This step was mentioned in an early draft that outlined the scope of the bill, and comes as individuals linked to Alvin Chau, the imprisoned junket operator with alleged ties to triads, have sued Macau over extended detentions.

Macau Strikes Out at Online Gambling

The new provision also addresses online gambling. It states that anyone who conducts, promotes, or organizes online betting or mutual betting in the city without proper authorization in accordance with the law will face imprisonment ranging from one to eight years.

This applies regardless of the computer systems, installations, or equipment involved, including whether the servers are located in the SAR. This provision essentially mandates that online gaming operators will be required implement geoblocking measures to prevent access from within Macau. However, it doesn't specify how it will enforce this requirement.

The proposed law is currently under consideration by the city's Legislative Assembly. If passed, it would significantly strengthen Macau's efforts to combat illegal gambling activities and ensure the integrity of its gaming industry.

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