Macau decides to strengthen casino regulations

Wong Sio Chak, Macau’s secretary for security, has been appointed as member of the gaming commission.

Macau.- The government of Macau has moved to centralise and control its casino industry by appointing Wong Sio Chak, Macau’s secretary for security, as member of the former city’s gaming commission.

The measure aims for the reactivation of the body that was set up 16 years ago but hasn’t been active in years. This decision also seeks to put gaming policy and oversight in the hands of Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai and his inner cabinet.

Macau created the gaming commission back in 2000 as it opened up the gaming industry to foreign players including US billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. The committee was revamped in 2010 with a mandate to research, monitor and implement regulations for the industry. Currently, there are eight officials on the commission’s board, including the current head of the gaming body, Macau’s chief executive and the secretary for economy and finance.

Wong’s appointment comes at a time when casino revenues have dropped to its lowest levels in five years and casino operators are struggling to lure in big spenders into their gambling resorts. Whilst casino revenues have been declining for 22 months in a row, gaming-related crimes in Macau increased by 38 percent last year due to large increases in loansharking and false imprisonment.

Macau’s gambling industry is suffering massive losses as it attempts to reinvent itself amid rising crime rates and falling gaming revenues. Now the move will likely tighten Beijing’s grip on the sector. The announcement follows an International Monetary Fund prediction that the city, which previously boasted the highest GDP in the world, is set to join basket case failed states like South Sudan and Equatorial Guinea with the highest percentage year-on-year decrease in GDP this year.