The DICJ bans proxy betting in Macau

The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) announced today (Friday) it had banned proxy betting.

Macau.- The local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau or DICJ by its Portuguese acronym, announced today (Friday) that proxy betting has been banned from Macau’s casinos starting as early as Monday.

“In the past, the bureau allowed phone betting for certain VIP gamblers, and issued related guidelines. But the practice invited misunderstandings and doubts,” said the DICJ in a statement. “Hence, the DICJ is imposing a ban on phone betting at gaming tables with effect on May 9.”

Phone betting occurs when an agent or third party makes a bet in person on a VIP room table game, on behalf of a client ordering the wager via a mobile online device or telephone. The practice prevents to fulfil the “know your customer” protocol created to tackle money laundering.

The ban on proxy betting in Macau comes as part of China’s anti-corruption campaign, aimed to curb graft perpetrated by public officials and the laundering of the funds gained via acts of corruption such as influence peddling or theft of public assets.

Previous to the announcement of this decision, Sterne Agee CRT analyst David Bain, mentioned proxy betting in an article. “We believe phone betting accounts for around 5 percent to 10 percent of VIP gross gaming revenue,” he wrote. “The only operator that does not allow phone wagering in Macau is [Sands China Ltd]. For other operators, we anticipate some potential disruption to their VIP businesses.” However, Bain believes that the impact of the measure on casino operator earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation “should be fairly minor given thin VIP margins.”

“There’s no more phone betting. They stopped it today,” said Steve Wynn, chairman of Wynn Macau Ltd. “The DICJ made it official. It’s finito.” Wynn added that the exposure of the company to proxy betting was “insignificant.”

“On proxy betting, I think it seems [there] is going to be a government announcement in the next few days to clarify the situation with that,” said Grant Bowie, chief executive of MGM China Holdings Ltd. “Whatever happens in the notion of proxy, it will probably be yet another continuation of pressure for the junkets themselves, but it probably is not going to be that significant for any of the [casino] operators, certainly not that significant for us.”