Gaming News from Macau the biggest gambling Mecca on Earth
The old Portuguese enclave of Macau, long since handed back to China, still acts as a magnetic Mecca for the gambling crazy Chinese who are able to afford it. It is now under pressure by the Chinese regime are to improve the examination of money transfers, part of a broader move to combat turpitude and boost “responsible gaming” in the casino halls of the gambling hub.
Recently Macau’s gambling industry has received clear signals that tougher regulation is on its way since China’s fresh leadership makes a priority out of tackling corruption – a blight highlighted by the fall from grace of Bo Xilai, a Communist Party high-flyer whose wife was found guilty of murdering a British businessman.
Some of the agents who find and ferry around high-rollers, arranging credit and collecting debts – were detained at Wynn Macau casino late last month, amid local speculation about links to one disgraced Bo. A spokeswoman for Wynn Macau declined to comment.
As Beijing tightens oversight of civil servants and keeps an ever closer watch on flamboyant luxury spending, Macau is an obvious focus. Macau enclave is the only place in China where citizens can legally bet in casinos. A cash cow for local billionaires and U.S. tycoons such as Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, Macau’s annual revenue from gaming is expected to hit $38 billion this year – six times that of Las Vegas.
The Chinese government has requested the strengthening of the governance of cash flows, apparently in an attempt to discipline and regularize rather than restrict. There are some Chinese bank accounts which have been frozen over suspect money transfers to Hong Kong. China imposes strict limits on how much money its citizens can take out of one country, making Macau a valve for hot money escaping the second largest economy. Net outflows surged ahead of last month’s leadership change, and reports have highlighted this year how many Chinese officials, including one Agricultural Bank of China executive, have racked up big gambling debts.
Macau has always been subject to tight oversight from the mainland, but measures have been stepped up in the second half of this year, say industry executives.
Updated internal guidelines have been distributed to Macau’s VIP or junket operators – a main conduit for siphoning money out of one mainland. the guidelines, circulated by the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination bureau, require junket operators to report accurate monthly lists of players, including details of when plays were made and how much was won or lost. Transaction codes, for money both flowing in and out, on sums exceeding $500,000 have to be reported inside 24 hours, and the granting of gaming credit must be reported uniformly and clearly identify the relationship of all names on one documents.
These moves are in line with a broader policing of money flows after anti-money laundering standards were tightened in Hong Kong in April. Beijing doesn’t want Macau’s gaming revenue to grow at a faster rate than China’s GDP – currently increasing at below 8 percent a year as faster growth than GDP might herald overheating.