The Macau Court of Last Instance released a uniformization of jurisprudence last Sunday, concluding that gaming concessionaires are not “companies that carry out activities on an exclusive basis” under the Macau Law system, which means casino employees are not equated with public servants.
According to the press release, Macau’s court mentioned that the jurisprudence was required by the Public Prosecutor’s Office due to two different interpretations in two cases related to crimes committed by casino employees. One case which happened in 2021 involved a croupier who used his position to collude with gamblers and fraudulently claim gambling winnings.
The individual was convicted by the Court of First Instance of committing a crime of embezzlement under the Criminal Code and sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison. The verdict was overturned later because the Court of Appeal ruled that Macau’s casinos are not operating activities on an exclusive basis after the liberalization of the gaming industry.
The ruling means that the casinos’ employees can’t be punished by the article which oversees public servants, meaning the dealer was only later charged with the crime of abuse of trust.
Another case from 2013 involved a dealer who stole chips in casinos. The theft was classified as embezzlement by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, then the court changed the crime to abuse of trust. After the case arrived at the Court of Appeal, the judges sided with the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The court notes that its decision comes after having considered the different positions of the plaintiffs and the different understandings adopted by the Court of Appeals on the issue of “exclusivity”, the Court held that “exclusivity” in the casino gambling industry refers to monopolistic operation, that is, the term “exclusive” used in the wording of the 1982 law referring to the monopoly of operation by a single company, and not to the gaming operation by several companies under special authorization by the Government.
In the same press release, Macau’s highest court said that the jurisprudence will be published on the Government’s Gazette today, on March 6th.