China’s National Security Concerns Visible in New Macau Laws

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Macau law firm MdME Lawyers published an extensive overview of the Amendment to the Macau Gaming Law and Public Tender Regulation, the comprehensive changes passed by the Legislative Assembly in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) in June that are now going to change the way concessionaires, junkets, and even consumers interact or conduct gambling activities of any sort.

A Read into Macau’s New Gambling Laws Highlights National Security

In its assessment of the current situation, MdME said that Macau is aligning its industry closer with the preferences of Chinese authorities in Beijing. Essentially, the powers to terminate concessionaire contracts are bestowed on the SAR’s regulator to ensure that national security is upheld.

The firm believes that the concept of national security has been extended to apply to business and the economy and well beyond territorial or military integrity and strength. Through the passage of these new laws, the SAR seeks to put equal importance on cyber and financial security as well as economic and technological integrity.

Much of the new laws also want to ensure that the outflow of $150 billion from the mainland to illegal operators stops once and for all. This also constitutes a part of the broader view of national security under the new laws.

The laws are addressing the opportunities for concessionaires or junket operators to explore weaknesses in the previous regulatory setup, including through the use of VIP rooms that used to have little accountability compared to the current read of the law. MdME also adds:

This subtle but important difference regarding the broader economic role of the gaming industry ties in with another new policy goal introduced by the Amendment to the Gaming Law: the regulation of the size of the gaming industry

MdME Lawyers

Indeed, Macau wants to ensure that any money that comes from its gambling industry in the future comes mostly from foreign travelers who are keen to visit Macau and explore this and other aspects of the broader experience.

No More Hard-Earned Chinese Yuan Spent on Gambling in Macau

China wishes its citizens to stop crossing the border with SAR and spend their money there, too. Tourism is in focus, but concessionaires remain an indelible part of the industry and the SAR’s economy. National security concerns and Beijing’s focus on this aspect of the experience are undeniable, as Macau seeks to be less reliant on gambling in the coming years.

This is reflected in the broader policies that have cut the number of junket operators, reduced the concessionaires’ licenses from 20 to 10 years, and generally made securing revenue from gambling much harder. This should in theory bring about better national security implications and diversification to the current economic landscape.  

Author: Ian Douglas