Macau lawmakers seek clarification on legality of mahjong gambling

Macau lawmakers seek clarification on legality of mahjong gambling

Legislators have raised questions about mahjong gambling in restaurants and clubs.

Macau.- Chan Chak Mo, a lawmaker who leads the Second Standing Committee that is currently discussing the draft Law on Combating Illegal Gambling Crimes, has said Macau lawmakers are requesting the government to provide more detailed guidance on the legality of mahjong.

Chan Chak Mo told TDM that some legislators are unsure about the situation of mahjong gambling in restaurants and clubs that offer spaces for play. Legislation prohibits unapproved profit-generating gambling. That would appear to allow mahjong if businesses don’t charge, but the committee is seeking guidance.

The proposed legislation suggests that illegal gambling, both online and offline, as well as mutual betting, should be exceptions to the Criminal Procedure Ordinance’s time restrictions, permitting searches of residences from 9pm to 7am. It also proposes fines ranging from MOP1,500 (US$186) to MOP5,000 (US$620) for those involved in illegal gambling in public spaces such as parks and squares.

In response to queries about why this exception applies solely to illegal gambling and not to other serious crimes like money laundering, terrorism, national security threats, and organised crime, a government representative said the administration is open to considering amendments to the Criminal Procedure Ordinance or similar provisions for these other offences.

The bill was presented by the director of the Legal Affairs Bureau, Leong Weng In, last December. It is intended to replace Macau’s existing Illegal Gambling Law (Law 8/96/m). It passed its initial reading at the Legislative Assembly in February.

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