Macau Tightens Illegal Gambling Laws in Public Spaces

Macau is set to introduce new legislation to curb illegal gambling in public areas. Following a recent discussion between a Legislative Assembly committee and government officials, the focus will be exclusively on gambling activities occurring in public places. This move aims to reinforce the city’s stance against illegal gambling.

The upcoming law will only classify gambling activities involving money as illegal, with fines ranging from MOP1,500 to MOP5,000 ($187-$623). Searches of residences will be permitted under the new rules. However, private activities such as home-based mahjong games will not be considered offenses. According to Macau Business, non-profit mahjong games in clubhouses and chess games in parks are also exempt, as long as they do not involve money.

Committee head Chan Chak Mo elaborated, noting that leisure activities without monetary stakes could potentially violate the law if they involve public spaces. For example, setting up a Chinese chess game in a public park and charging a fee could be deemed illegal. The bill is anticipated to be submitted to the Legislative Assembly for a final reading by August 15, marking the end of the current legislative session.

Addressing Unofficial Currency Exchanges

The meeting also touched on the contentious issue of unofficial currency exchanges. Government officials leaned towards administrative measures rather than outright criminalization to tackle this problem. More than 2,000 individuals involved in money exchange have been banned from entering casinos in 2023. Criminalizing these practices involves a complex and time-consuming process, including investigation, evidence gathering, and trial.

“The government believes that the use of administrative measures, such as reporting to mainland authorities to prohibit ‘money exchange gangs’ from leaving the country or banning them from entering Macau, has been effective in combating them,” said Mo.

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This strategic approach reflects Macau’s commitment to using administrative actions to combat illegal gambling and unauthorized currency exchanges, ensuring a balanced and efficient legal framework.

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