The Macau government has submitted a bill that will, if approved, see local casino staff banned from gambling in any of the city’s casinos.
Details of the bill
This bill has been proposed by the government in Macau, and it has been anticipated for some time. If passed into law, it would see all gambling workers in Macau casinos barred from the casino floor when not working.
The aim of the new bill is to combat problem gambling common among casino workers – card dealers in particular. Even workers that have no direct involvement in the gaming side of the casinos, such as cleaners, restaurant workers, and cage staff, will also be affected by the bill.
The bill, announced by the Macau government’s main advisory group, the Executive Council, is set to go before the Legislative Assembly for a vote.
In the grand scheme of things, the proportion of gaming revenue attributable to players in the locality is a drop in the ocean. In 2017, gaming revenues in the city were $33bn (£25bn).
Gaming operators in Macau already have conditions in their contracts that prevent staff from gambling on the premises. This new government bill would see a blanket ban introduced whereby any casino worker found to be on the premises of a local casino when not working would face fines ranging from $125 (£94) to $1,250 (£940).
Civil servants in the city are already denied access to the casino floor due to their professional duties. The only exception to this rule occurs for a short period over the Chinese New Year. A similar exception is expected to be included in the casino workers’ bill.
The bill also proposes fines of between $125 (£94) and $1,250 (£940) for anyone under the age of 21 found on a casino floor. And the casino itself is liable to a fined in the region of $1,250 (£940) to $62,500 (£47,000) if it allows anyone under the age of 21 onto the casino floor.
In addition, the bill gives the authorities the right to seize prize money won by people who are banned from the casino floor. It will also restrict the use of mobile phones and other smart devices in the vicinity of the gaming tables.
The banning of devices that record images or sound, currently a guideline applied by most Macau casinos at their own discretion, will be made law by this bill.
In 2012, the minimum age for entering a casino was raised from 18 to 21. The reason for this was to protect the locals and encourage young people in the region to stick with the path of education rather than starting to work as dealers in casinos as soon as they left school.
Why the need?
Authorities in Macau have been contemplating this type of ban since May 2016. It had been supported by two of the gaming labor groups in the region.
There are concerns that frequent exposure to the flashing lights and tempting jackpots of the casino environment increases the chances of casino workers developing a problem gambling habit.
Mickey Brown, the president of New Jersey’s Foxwood Casino, estimates that “five to ten percent of Foxwood’s employees have gambled more than they probably should, and more than just recreational”. The executive director for the Council on Compulsive Gambling in New Jersey noted that 8% of the calls made to their hotline were from casino employees.
In 2016, 147 Macau residents signed on to the Central Registry System of Individuals with Gambling Disorders. Approximately 20% of them were employed as croupiers or dealers in the local casinos.
It is also natural that those with an affinity for gambling will choose a profession that exposes them to it on a regular basis.