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Macau illegal gambling law draft includes expulsion for infractions


A new legislation proposal for tackling illegal gambling crimes, that has been submitted to the Macau SAR Legislative Assembly, includes a series of ancillary penalties such as expulsion or prohibition from entering the city.

As previously known, this revision proposed by the Executive aims, among other aspects, to increase the penal framework for crimes related to illicit gambling. Within this scope, it is noteworthy that the maximum penalty for crimes related to illicit gambling is expected to increase from the current three years to between one and eight years.

On the other hand, penalties for lending money for illegal gambling will also be heavier. Additionally, the Government intends to extend the maximum duration of pre-trial detention.

According to the proposal, those convicted of the crimes specified in the law may be subject to ‘isolated or cumulative’ ancillary penalties, such as ‘expulsion or prohibition from entering the SAR for a period of five to 10 years’ for non-residents.

They may also be prohibited from entering certain establishments or places, from exercising certain professions or activities, or from holding public office – each penalty can be applied for a period of two to 10 years.

Judicial injunction and the publication of the convicting decision at the expense of the convicted person in a Chinese-language newspaper and a Portuguese-language newspaper of the SAR for a period of 10 consecutive days are also included.

Those convicted of the crimes of illegal exploitation of games of chance or loansharking, coercion of another person to engage in gambling, provision of means for gambling, or fraudulent gambling will be punished with an ancillary penalty of prohibition from entering gambling establishments for a period of two to 10 years.

According to the current law, this penalty applies only to money lending for gambling crimes.

Regarding illegal loans for gambling, the Macau government’s proposal is that ‘anyone who, with the intention of obtaining financial gain for oneself or another person, provides money or other means for gambling to someone else’ shall be punished with imprisonment for one to five years.

Under current legislation, those who do so are sentenced to a penalty corresponding to that of loan sharking.

According to the Macau Penal Code, loan sharking is punishable by imprisonment of up to three years.

The penalty of one to five years will only be imposed if loan sharking becomes a way of life, if the illegitimate pecuniary advantage is disguised by demanding a promissory note or simulating a contract, or if the victim is left in a difficult economic situation.

Regarding fraudulent gambling, anyone who ensures luck through error, deception, or the use of any means will be punished with imprisonment for one to five years or a fine of up to 600 days. The same applies in the case of counterfeiting or tampering with chips.

Fines for gambling in public spaces are also expected to increase with the revision of the law. Those found in public spaces engaging in games involving the ‘movement of money or conventional corresponding values’ will be fined between MOP1,500 ($186) and MOP5,000 ($620), which under current legislation ranges from MOP300 ($37) to MOP1,000 ($124).

Those found playing mahjong without legal authorization are fined between MOP1,500 ($186) and MOP20,000 ($2,482), currently ranging from MOP500 ($62) to MOP10,000 ($1,241).

Furthermore, concerning the improvement of criminal investigation methods, the Executive proposes that, for certain crimes, home searches can be permitted between 9pm and 7am. This is because ‘illegal exploitation of games of chance or betting and mutual betting crimes are typically committed during nighttime’.

Considering the ‘high degree of evasion of investigation and concealment of crimes related to illegal gambling,’ the bill introduces provisions regarding ‘undercover agents’.

Additionally, it establishes a new protection regime for individuals who provide information or collaborate with the police in unveiling criminals, as well as provisions to prevent detainees for the crime of illegal exploitation of games of chance or betting and mutual betting from communicating with anyone other than their lawyer before the judicial interrogation.

Online betting is also a focus of this bill, which will ‘expressly prohibit’ the exploitation, promotion, and organization of games of chance or betting and mutual betting online, regardless of whether the systems, devices, and computer equipment involved are installed in Macau or not.

The proposal ‘expressly includes’ the act of ‘parallel betting’ within the scope of illegal exploitation of games of chance or betting, ‘in order to take another step towards clarifying the composition of the crime type’ and ‘avoiding unnecessary discussions in terms of law enforcement’.

Nelson Moura
Nelson Moura
Editor and reporter with 10 years of experience in Greater China, namely Taiwan and Macau, in printed and online media, with a focus on finance, gaming, politics, crime, business and social issues.