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Macau Proposes Tough Measures: Online Gambling Ban and Stricter Penalties for Illicit Activities

Macau is intensifying its efforts to tackle illegal gambling activities by proposing a comprehensive legislative overhaul, including a new ban on online gambling. The move comes in response to a surge in gambling-related crime rates in the region. While online gambling has never been legal in Macau, the existing laws, implemented in 1996, are deemed outdated, prompting the need for a modernized legal framework.

Macau Proposes Tough Measures: Online Gambling Ban and Stricter Penalties for Illicit Activities

The proposed legislative bill, put forward by André Cheong Weng Chon, the secretary for administration and justice in Macau, explicitly prohibits online betting. It also introduces significantly harsher penalties for businesses involved in illegal gambling operations, coupled with a specific ban on parallel betting. The latter is a practice often associated with Macau's junket operators and involves bets of apparent lower value, with the understanding that the actual value is higher or in a different currency.

This legislative initiative signifies a proactive approach by Macau to align its legal framework with contemporary standards and address the evolving landscape of gambling-related activities. The bill is set to undergo a thorough review and debate in the Macau Legislative Assembly, where its fate will be decided.

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If the proposed bill is enacted into law, unlicensed online gambling operators, irrespective of their location, will face fines. Moreover, the bill introduces a significant escalation in potential prison sentences for those running illegal gambling operations, ranging from one to eight years. This marks a substantial increase from the current maximum penalty of three years of imprisonment. To enhance law enforcement capabilities, the bill empowers the police to conduct night raids on private homes without the need for residents' permission.

In addition to cracking down on illegal gambling operators, the bill seeks to definitively prohibit parallel betting, a practice that has not been explicitly outlawed but has been associated with circumventing currency restrictions imposed by China when entering Macau. While benefiting certain affluent customers, parallel betting diminishes revenue for gambling operators and, consequently, reduces tax revenue for Macau.

The proposed legislative measures underscore Macau's commitment to adapting its legal framework to effectively address emerging challenges in the gambling industry. The goal is to maintain Macau's position as a global gambling hub while ensuring the integrity and legality of its gaming operations.



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