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Macau Considers Criminalizing Illicit Money Exchange Around Casinos

Macau's gaming industry is closely monitoring the potential criminalization of illicit money exchange activities around casinos, following suggestions by Macau's Secretary for Security. Industry insiders have expressed their concerns and opinions regarding this proposal.

Macau Considers Criminalizing Illicit Money Exchange Around Casinos

U Io Hung, President of the Macau Professional Association of Gaming Promoters, believes it is too early to assess the impact as the authorities have not provided details on when and how they plan to combat illicit money exchange. He notes that gaming businesses heavily rely on cash flow, and an outright ban on money exchange could have a significant impact.

He stated, "It's hard to say how much of the betting wagers come from the illicit money exchange, especially those that happened within casinos."

On the other hand, Kwok Chi Chung, Head of the Junket Association, has a different perspective. He suggests that betting wagers exchanged illegally represent only a small proportion of the total. Mass players typically exchange their money legally or bring their own currency, and some resort to illegal exchange groups due to better rates.

He noted, "I believe that those players who want to exchange their money, it's because of better exchange rates offered by the illegal money exchange groups."

Macau's Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, has stated that the criminalization initiative aims to address fraud crimes related to illicit money exchange, such as counterfeit notes and remittance fraud. Besides criminalization, other administrative penalties like fines, deportation, and entry bans are being considered.

Wong also highlighted collaboration with the Chinese government to enhance cross-border financial control and combat cross-border money laundering crimes. These efforts aim to promote the healthy and orderly development of Macau's gambling industry and gain trust from China's Central Government.

Investment bank JP Morgan suggests that the potential impact of criminalization may be limited, as illicit forex exchanges primarily serve a specific niche of low to mid-end players who urgently need extra cash to extend their gambling sessions. Analysts estimate that less than 10% of total gaming gross revenue relies on these services.

The outcome of Macau's deliberations on criminalizing illicit money exchange remains uncertain, but it reflects ongoing efforts to regulate and secure the region's gaming industry.



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