Macau’s casino regulator has asked all casino operators to strictly enforce the government directive issued in 2016 banning the use of phones by players at casino tables.
The renewed push comes in the aftermath of last week’s news where it was revealed that punters at one of Macau’s casinos were using the social messaging app WeChat to illegally connect with outside gamblers for betting.
Macau’s Judiciary Police had arrested three Chinese nationals and four Macau residents on charges of illegal gambling in that particular case. This was the second time that a similar gaming racket has been busted, the first having been in April 2017.
Judiciary Police spokesperson Choi Ian Fai said that the suspects had been setting up bets in actual baccarat games being held in a Cotai casino. The total wagers handled by them is reported to have been more than HKD10 million ($1.28 million).
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) issued a statement soon after warning that it was paying close attention to the issue.
In a statement DICJ said
DICJ has demanded of gaming concessionaires and promoters that – besides strictly complying with the casino tableside phone ban measure – they step up inspection efforts regarding the use of telecommunication equipment in other casino areas. Anyone suspected of wrongdoing should be immediately reported to the authorities
The ban on the use of phones came into effect on May 9, 2016. Prior to this, VIP gamblers could gamble via phones provided they had registered with the casino before the game commenced. Also known as proxy betting, the practice is popular among Chinese gamblers.
The system however raises concerns with regards to the KYC protocols that casinos are required to follow in order to counter money laundering. Experts stated that it could act as a loophole for avoiding identification.
Despite the ban there are have been several reports of punters using phones to carry out gambling on behalf of outside players. Authorities have said to have issued so far 71 verbal cautions to casino patrons for violating the directive. Nearly 50 of them were issued between January 1 and April 9 this year according to information from the DICJ.
In April, the Judiciary Police busted a gang which was using WeChat to carry out illegal betting worth $1.3 million involving gamblers from mainland China. Nearly seven Chinese nationals were arrested in the raids. According to reports, the gang was attracting gamblers from the mainland with promises of being able to bet on results of actual VIP baccarat games being held in Macau’s casinos.