Macau: Legal experts see missed opportunity in drafted law against gaming crime

Local lawyers argue that a recently drafted law aiming to mitigate the Macau gaming industry’s susceptibility to criminal influence is a missed opportunity in its present state.

Carlos Coelho and Francisco Leitão, from MdME law firm, expressed concerns about the efficacy of the drafted law designed, The Macau News reported, citing a GGR Asia report. The proposed legislation falls short in addressing problematic currency exchanges near gaming premises, an issue highlighted by both the Financial Intelligence Office and Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

From a legislative standpoint it would be doable to criminalize such conduct, and the best opportunity to do so would be with the [draft] law, but it seems that was not the government position,” they said in a joint statement to the aforementioned publication.

The duo also argues for more clarity in the bill’s language concerning sports betting, fearing potential ambiguity that could encompass legal forms of gambling. They emphasize the importance of refining the legislation to align with the significance of Macau’s gaming sector.

António Lobo Vilela, a legal expert and former government adviser on gaming matters in Macao, laments the missed opportunity to pass a modern law on illicit gambling, considering the industry’s prominence.

I believe a golden opportunity has been missed to pass a modern law on illicit gambling in line with the importance of Macao’s gambling sector. The essence of a criminal law is not only to repress crimes, but also to foster some preventive measures,” Vilela was quoted as saying in the report.

The proposed Law to combat gambling crimes is set for its initial reading at the Legislative Assembly, aiming to update the nearly three-decades-old Illegal Gambling Regime.

Part of the government’s initiative to curb illicit gaming, the law emerges following the high-profile criminal convictions of junket operators Alvin Chau and Levo Chan.