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Macau legislative assembly approves draft bill to counter illegal gambling


The Macau Legislative Assembly this Wednesday approved the first reading of new legislation against illegal gambling.

The Law to Combat Illegal Gambling Crimes, presented last year, will revoke current legislation related to crimes related to animal racing; clarifies the crime of side betting; and expressly prohibit online betting in Macau – even with servers or IT equipment outside the Macau SAR, which are now punishable by up to eight years in prison.

The bill will now go through Legislative Committee evaluation. During the presentation of the bill on Wednesday, Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon considered that new law was necessary to promote the “orderly and sustainable development of the local gaming sector”.

In 2022, two laws related to gambling in casinos were introduced, alongside a new bill on granting credit for gambling. Macau authorities have now decided to upgrade the current Illegal Gambling Regime implemented more than 20 years ago.

Taking into account the “high degree of evasion of investigation and concealment of crimes related to illegal gambling”, the bill introduced provisions on “undercover agents” and created a new protection regime for anyone who provides information or has collaborated with the police in discovery of criminals. It also allows for home searches between 9pm and 7am.

Meanwhile, it also adds provisions that prevent, before the first judicial interrogation, those detained for the crime of illegal exploitation of games of chance and mutual betting from communicating with people other than the lawyer.

With a view to reinforcing the fight against crimes related to illegal gambling, the bill also increases the criminal framework for crimes related to illegal gambling and improved the respective criminal and criminal procedural rules, including the extension of deadlines for maximum preventive detention.

At the same time it increases the value of fines for administrative offenses related to illegal gambling and to improve provisions.

Non-residents involved in these crimes can be punished with expulsion or entry ban for five to 10 years.

Convicts may also be prohibited from visiting certain places and even from exercising certain professions for a period of up to 10 years, and cannot still be civil servants for up to a decade.

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.