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Lawmakers in Macau have put forth a new bill aimed at bolstering efforts to combat gambling-related crimes

Lawmakers in Macau have put forth a new bill aimed at bolstering efforts to combat gambling-related crimes, with a particular focus on updating existing legislation to address emerging challenges. The proposed statute, titled the "Law to Combat Illegal Gambling Crimes," was unveiled by the Macau government on Monday, shedding light on measures designed to fortify the region's regulatory framework concerning gambling offenses.

Lawmakers in Macau have put forth a new bill aimed at bolstering efforts to combat gambling-related crimes

The legislative initiative seeks to modernize Macau's gaming laws, notably amending Law No.8/96/M, which pertains to illegal gambling activities within the enclave. Among the key provisions outlined in the bill are stricter penalties for individuals involved in illicit gambling operations, including those providing illegal loans for gambling activities within the city's casinos.

Coco Leong Weng, director of the Macau Legal Affairs Bureau, highlighted the proposed enhancements, stating, "In this legal proposal, our suggestion is that we are increasing the imprisonment terms — including for the illegal operation of games of fortune and illegal operation of mutual betting — from the existing maximum of three years to one year to eight years."

The move comes as Macau endeavors to root out unlawful activities in the region, particularly targeting actors who flout gaming regulations for personal financial gain, following directives from Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping has emphasized the need for stringent measures, citing national security concerns posed by the significant flow of funds from mainland China and Hong Kong through Macau's casinos.

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In addition to addressing traditional forms of gambling, the proposed legislation also takes aim at online gambling activities, with provisions targeting individuals who engage in unlawful betting via the internet while in Macau. Penalties for such offenses could include imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of up to MOP10,000 ($1,240).

Moreover, nonresident offenders would face additional consequences, such as a ban from reentering Macau for a period of five to 10 years. Lawmakers justify this measure as a means to streamline the judicial process and minimize enforcement complexities surrounding the gaming industry.

The bill also extends its reach to encompass casual gambling activities, such as mahjong games commonly seen throughout Macau. Residents caught betting on such games could incur fines ranging from $37 to $620, contingent upon the amount wagered and any prior offenses.

Furthermore, the proposed statute grants law enforcement authorities the power to conduct searches of businesses or residences suspected of facilitating illegal gambling activities during specified hours, between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. The bill emphasizes the nocturnal nature of gambling crimes and aims to provide law enforcement with tools to effectively combat them.

Finally, the legislation includes provisions for immunity for individuals who assist law enforcement in uncovering illegal gambling operations and related crimes, incentivizing cooperation in efforts to uphold regulatory integrity.



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