Casino Closing During Emergencies Now Falls On Macao Leaders

Image by Joshua J. Cotten
Article by : Helen Sep 28, 2020

Side by side with Hong Kong, Macao is one of China’s unique administrative regions and the only part in China where gambling is considered legal. In 2018, 57,000 people were employed in the gambling industry, and 98% worked in casinos. The same year, Macao had a revenue of 37.59 billion U.S. dollars, which was three times bigger than Nevada’s gaming revenue.

Ever since its revenue peak in 2013, Macao’s gambling industry has faced tough times since the government of Beijing strengthened its anti-corruption campaign. Casinos in Macao used to focus on elite customers and generated big profits from their VIP rooms. These rooms usually offer high-stake games that require a large number of bets.

The city has been transforming to become a versatile tourist destination. Now, tourists come to Macao not just for gambling but also for other leisure activities such as shopping. However, for most parts, gambling is still a significant source of income.

Businesses like gaming operators refuse the thought of having to stop working unless it’s absolutely the only alternative left. There are six reported licensed casino operators in Macao: SJM Holdings, Wynn Macau, MGM China Holdings, Melco Crown Entertainment, Sands China, and Galaxy Entertainment Group. The largest of these companies is Sands China who’s also under Las Vegas Sands.

A few years ago, gaming operators had to close down operations in 2017 due to the Typhoon Hato strike. Facilities closed because they were thinking of people’s safety. Right now, because of COVID-19, the city government has the legal authority to implement casinos being close.

Due to Macao’s new civil protection framework, the city’s chief executive can decide to shut down casinos that can be labeled as vulnerable in an emergency. Such emergencies are typhoons, flooding, and security risks.

The law now says that the government can determine what can be considered hazardous to people and what constitutes a threat. The law also states that it can be for a single casino or the entire industry, depending on the present situation.

Typhoon Hato attacked Macau having 124 mph winds and causing the death of 10 people. Another typhoon, Mangkut, also hit the city the following year. The casinos needed to shut down to protect the employees, visitors, and city residents. This was ordered by Macau’s Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On during that time. Due to these circumstances, Macau’s leaders and casino owners agreed to cite complete closure ahead of the storm.

This might be one of the key reasons why there’s a sudden change in legislation. During that time, there was an ongoing debate about whether the city has an authority to implement such action. To prevent this kind of debate all over again, the law is made clear that the government can decide, especially if there’s danger ahead.

Referring to the gaming laws, Macau’s casinos should have its operation open every day. But they could stop such activity because of specific circumstances. Furthermore, aside from the fact that the government can order closures, casino operators can also make the call without approval. However, they should still inform the government when such action will be done. The chief executive reminded that closure could only be done because of an event that threatens the public’s safety.


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