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Is this the end of free food at Macao’s casinos? Unconfirmed reports say the government wants it to end

Concerns have been raised that the practice of giving out free food at Macao casinos takes business away from local restaurants and cafés
  • The president of the Macau Association for Responsible Gaming says free food is simply a way to encourage people to keep gambling

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UPDATED: 13 Jun 2024, 7:56 am

The days of free food at the Macao’s casinos may be numbered. Casino industry website Inside Asia Gaming has reported “multiple sources” claiming that the government has requested concessionaires stop offering the perk to guests.

Concerns that the practice negatively impacts smaller local businesses by facilitating “zero-dollar tourism” are reportedly behind the move, which has yet to be confirmed by officials.

President of the Macau Association for Responsible Gaming Billy Song told the outlet that he had heard rumours complimentary food would be phased out of Macao’s casinos – and said he believed it would eventually happen.

[See more: How to eat, drink and entertain yourself for free at Macao’s casinos]

Song said that while offering freebies – including Häagen-Dazs ice cream, milk tea and egg tarts – was a way to attract visitors and incentivise players to continue gambling, it could also be viewed as a breach of the concessionaires’ social responsibility. 

Many people who visit Macao for its casinos reportedly make use of the freebies rather than venturing out to eat or spend their money in local stores, depriving local businesses of potential revenue.

According to Inside Asia Gaming, increasing numbers of mainland Chinese visit the city without spending a single pataca on anything besides gambling – given they can travel to casinos for free from the border, fill up on complimentary food, then return to the border via the same shuttle bus service.

UPDATED: 13 Jun 2024, 7:56 am

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