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Junkets face tighter scrutiny under new gaming bill

Standing Committee will review terms at least twice more before agreeing final wording and penalties with government officials.

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Standing Committee will review terms at least twice more before agreeing final wording and penalties with government officials.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

All junket contracts will have to be approved by the secretary for economy and finance, while any amendments to the contract will need the approval of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), under the government’s proposed new gaming laws.

Lawmaker Andrew Chan Chak Mo, who chairs the Legislative Assembly’s 2nd Standing Committee, said that the committee thought the secretary for economy and finance should approve the “important issues”.

He added that according to the bill, the DICJ would “ask” the secretary for economy and finance for an opinion about any amendments to junket contracts, but he or she would not make the final decision. 

According to Chan, the committee will hold at least two more meetings to review the bill before meeting with government officials to discuss the final wording and the penalties of the bill, adding that the committee is still waiting for the latest version of the gaming bill from the government so that the junket bill can be further reviewed. Chan has previously underlined that the two bills are separate but interconnected and, therefore, should not contradict each other. 

No government officials were present at yesterday’s meeting.

According to the bill, the maximum percentage of the commissions that the gaming operators are officially allowed to pay the junkets will continue to be stipulated by the secretary for economy and finance, currently capped at 1.25 per cent for rolling chip turnover. 

Asked whether there was room for an increase in the maximum percentage, Chan said the government had no plans to lower its gross gaming revenue tax and that under such circumstances, the future gaming concessionaires would “live a poor life” if the junkets’ commission would be further increased. 

He also said that the interests of the junket operators and the gaming concessionaires would need to remain balanced, considering the government’s unchanged stance on the gross gaming revenue tax. 

According to the law, the gross gaming revenue tax amounts to 35 per cent of the concessionaires’ gross gaming revenue, while the concessionaires’ additional “contributions” and other mandatory payments amount to up to five per cent of the gross gaming revenue. 

Chan also said the committee noted that the junket bill contains penalty provisions for illegal deposit-taking and that the wording of the definition of a junket operator was “not 100 per cent” in line with the current gaming bill. Therefore, Chan said, the committee would request the government to adjust the wording of the junket bill accordingly. 

Chan added that so far no comments on the junket bill have been received from the gaming sector, which Chan attributed to the fact that the time between the bill’s first reading in the legislature and the current article-by-article review was too short, The Macau Post Daily reported. 

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:42 am

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