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A Macau Gaming Supervisor Is Accused of Participating in a Prostitution Ring

A Macau gambling regulator employed by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) faces criminal prosecution for his alleged involvement in an unlawful prostitution operation.

Macau's Judiciary Police (PJ) detained 19 persons, allegedly operating an online prostitution network since at least 2009 in September. Additionally, 54 female prostitutes were arrested during the law enforcement sweep.

Wednesday, police revealed that two more suspects have been arrested and charged in connection with the alleged prostitution scheme. One of these persons is purportedly an employee of the DICJ, one of the most influential government bodies in Macau charged with monitoring the multibillion-dollar gambling industry of the Chinese enclave.

According to the DICJ, the employee is a 58-year-old Macau resident who has worked at the gaming bureau for 30 years.

In Macau, prostitution is legal, but only for women or those who wish to rent out their bodies. A prostitute must operate alone and cannot promote their services publicly.

No one other than the prostitute may profit financially from prostitution, which prohibits brothels and other organized sex rings managed by pimps or managers. Numerous prostitutes operate in salons and massage parlors, where they provide their bodies as supplementary services.

The DICJ governs the industry that is most vital to Macau's economic well-being. About 80 cents of every tax dollar collected by a local government comes from casinos.

According to the DICJ website, the bureau's objective is to promote the "healthy and orderly" functioning of casino gambling in Macau and to protect "the overall interests of the Special Administrative Region."

The gaming agency has stated that the arrest of one of its employees would be taken seriously.

"The DICJ is highly concerned about the alleged breach of law by this employee and will handle the case in accordance with the law and punish him severely," the DICJ explained in a statement. "We will open an internal disciplinary investigation and take precautionary suspension to hold the offender responsible in accordance with the law."

During its more than a decade of operation, the suspected online prostitution network generated at least $1.5 million in earnings, according to law enforcement. Since then, the booking platform has been taken down.

In Macau, anyone convicted of unlawful prostitution risk severe penalties and prison terms of up to 15 years. Similar to Hong Kong, prostitution is legal but prohibited in the rest of mainland China and Taiwan.

Although the DICJ is responsible for all parts of the second-largest gambling market in the world, after Nevada, the agency was relatively small until recent years. Before its 2021 growth, the DICJ had less than 200 workers. In comparison, the Nevada Gaming Control Board employs almost 400 individuals.

The DICJ was restructured last year, and it now has approximately 450 staff.

This year, the DICJ has fewer junkets to regulate due to the new regulatory environment imposed on casinos in Macau in 2022. The DICJ reports that there are currently only 36 licensed VIP junket groups in the region, down from a peak of 235 a decade ago.

Macau imposes a 5% tax on fees paid to junkets by casinos for luring high rollers to the resorts. Currently, casinos pay a 39 percent tax on their gross gaming earnings. The 5% supplemental tax is an aim to rid the business of such operators and double-tax VIP earnings.

This week, a junket representative told Nikkei Asia, "The tax will kill our income. Our hands are tied. We can’t make any money and now we have to pay this tax. What’s in it for us anymore?"



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