Gambling ban for Macao’s casino staff

The Macao government has submitted a bill that will, if approved, see local casino staff banned from gambling in any of the city’s casinos. The measure aims to curb problem gambling among those employed at the city’s gambling venues. Aside from table games dealers and workers tending to slot machines across casinos, people less directly involved with the actual gaming operations will, too, be barred from visiting gaming floors outside work hours, under the newly proposed legislation.

The measure aims to curb problem gambling among those employed at the city’s gambling venues.

Who does this affect?

Aside from table games dealers and workers tending to slot machines across casinos, people less directly involved with the actual gaming operations will also be barred from visiting gaming floors outside of work hours. Maintenance and security staff, employees working in public relations, food and beverage staff, as well as workers at cashier’s offices will all not be admitted to any gaming floors outside their designated working hours.

Gaming operators in Macao already insert conditions in their employment contracts preventing staff from gambling on the premises but that does not prevent those same staff playing in casinos operated by other operators. This new government bill introduces a blanket ban in any local casino when not working. Staff caught gambling anywhere in Macao will face fines ranging from US$125 to US$1,250.

Civil servants in the city are already denied access to the casino floor due. The only exception to this rule occurs for a short period over the Chinese New Year. In addition to helping avoid negative publicity associated with problem gambling, this ban is intended to prevent a conflict or interest as casinos generate the fast majority of Macao’s public revenues. A similar Chinese New Year exception is expected to be included in the casino workers’ bill.

Why is this necessary?

It is argued that the new legislation curb the temptation to gamble that casino staff members might experience as a result of the fact that they are employed in the industry. The Government claims that many of these people believe they can beat the house due to their knowledge and experience.

But civil liberties groups question the necessity of the ban and point to studies showing that there are few gambling problems amongst the local population, and the problem is not significant enough to warrant the change in law. Bans on gambling are only likely to push those who are prevented from doing so underground and programs to support problem gamblers is a better solution.

Macao has always been a gambling mecca and to prevent locals (a large number of whom work in casinos) from gambling themselves is not likely to be popular.

Underage gambling

The bill also proposes fines of between $125 and $1,250 for anyone under the age of 21 found on a casino floor. And the casino itself is liable to a fine of between $1,250 and $62,500 if it allows anyone under the age of 21 onto the casino floor. Since raising the gambling age limit from 18 to 21 in 2015, Macao’s casinos have struggled. It has been challenging to keep underage gamblers from entering the premises because of the size of the resorts and the designs of the casino floors. Rules change frequently in Macao and the operators are often faced with challenges that were never foreseen in original designs.

Rights to seize money

The bill gives the authorities the right to seize prize money won by people who are banned from the casino floor. It will also restrict the use of mobile phones and other smart devices in the vicinity of the gaming tables. It remains to be seen how this can be enforced however as some of Macao’s casinos receive more than 100,000 visitors each day to its casino.