14.12.2023

by Mateusz Mazur

Macau Intensifies Crackdown on Illegal Gambling with New Draft Law

The Macau Executive Council has taken a significant step in its fight against illegal gambling by announcing the draft “Law to combat illegal gambling crimes.”

Macau Intensifies Crackdown on Illegal Gambling with New Draft Law

This new legislation is aimed at expanding the scope of illegal gambling operations to include “betting under the table” and intensifying the crackdown on the illegal operation of online betting. This move comes as a part of the government’s ongoing efforts, announced during its 2022 Policy Address, to amend the law on illegal gambling.

Key Points of the Draft Law

The draft law, which is part of a comprehensive review of the Law on Illegal Gambling, encompasses several critical points:

  1. Clarification of ‘Betting Under the Table’: The bill explicitly includes acts related to “betting under the table” within the scope of illegal gambling operations to avoid disputes over the application of the law.
  2. Prohibition of Online Gambling Activities: It prohibits the operation, promotion, and organization of online gambling and mutual betting, regardless of the location of the involved computer systems and equipment.
  3. Legal Norms Unification: The bill summarizes Law No. 9/96/M, which involves crimes related to mutual betting on animal racing.
  4. Nighttime Searches for Specific Crimes: To improve criminal investigation methods, the bill allows for residence searches between 9pm and 7am for crimes related to illegal gambling.
  5. Undercover Investigations and Protection Systems: Introducing the concept of “undercover investigation,” the bill adds protection for informants and restricts contact for detained individuals to only their solicitor before judicial questioning.
  6. Increased Penalties for Gambling-Related Crimes: The bill proposes increased penalties, including extending the maximum duration of detention, to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling.
  7. Enhanced Penalties for Administrative Violations: To improve the deterrent effect, the bill recommends increasing penalties for administrative violations related to illegal gambling.

Government Officials’ Perspectives

Director of the Legal Affairs Bureau, Leong Weng In, emphasized that the bill expressly prohibits various forms of online gambling activities. “The bill expressly prohibits the operation, promotion and organization of online gambling and mutual betting, irrespective of whether or not the computer systems, installations and equipment involved are located in Macau,”

Executive Council President, André Cheong Weng Chon, clarified that the law does not cover Macau citizens opening accounts with foreign companies offering offshore online gambling services, as long as these companies do not operate within Macau. “The bill expressly prohibits the operation, promotion and organization of online gambling and mutual betting, irrespective of whether or not the computer systems, installations and equipment involved are located in Macau,”

Our Comment on the Article

The Macau Executive Council’s proactive approach in drafting the “Law to combat illegal gambling crimes” marks a pivotal moment in the region’s legal landscape. By specifically targeting “betting under the table” and illegal online gambling, the government is addressing the evolving nature of gambling crimes and the challenges in enforcing the law.

The introduction of undercover investigations and the extension of search times signify a more aggressive stance against illegal gambling activities, reflecting the seriousness with which the government views these offenses. Additionally, the increase in penalties for both gambling-related crimes and administrative violations shows a commitment to deterring illegal activities through stringent legal measures.

This legislation could set a precedent for other jurisdictions grappling with similar issues, offering a blueprint for effectively combating illegal gambling. The success of these measures in Macau could provide valuable insights into balancing regulatory enforcement with the protection of individual rights, a challenge faced by many governments worldwide in their efforts to curb illegal gambling.

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