3. Greyhounds, Horses, Sports Betting & Lottery

“Online Gambling Laws for Macau and Cultures”

While Macau is mostly known for casinos, we do have many forms of legal gambling and most tie to era of the STDM gambling monopoly. As mentioned horse racing existed here in 1842, but was first organized in 1927 and then suspended in 1942 due to World War II. This restarted in 1980 when famous gambler Yip Hon got the license to operate Harness Racing. As you might recall he was a partner in STDM at their start – in 1982 he sold his shares over a public falling out with Stanley Ho.

Long story short, Yip Hon was not successful because Harness Racing never really caught on. In 1988 the turnover was so small he had to stop. His business was bought the same year by Taiwan Investment and Development Co., Ltd. They changed the grounds to a flat course and began races in September 1989. They also struggled and the year following STDM bought out the track and their concession. They resumed races in January 1991 and have run them ever since. Today this is a successful business that had 2012 profits of MOP 365 million. Online betting and information is available at the MJC (English version) website.

Greyhound racing is also popular in Macau and had 2012 profit of MOP 205 million. This restarted when in 1962 an Indonesian businessman was given a land concession to rebuild Macau’s Yat Yuen Canidrome (逸園賽狗場) which had previously run races from 1932 to 1942. Races resumed 28 September 1963 originally ran by Yi Park. 8 years later this was taken over by a Stanley Ho backed group. Today there are 16 races per night beginning at 5PM and the cost to enter is MOP10 which can be used as betting credit. It is also possible to bet dog races at off-course betting centres located in the Hotel Lisboa, Jai-Alai Palace and Kam Pek Casino. Vast information about the races, dogs and how to bet online can be found in Chinese at macauyydog.com.

Other gambling business of the Ho family is Macau lottery. In 1984, STDM was given the concession for Instant Lottery and started the subsidiary Macau SLOT. Due to technical issues and lack of demand this was abandoned a few years later. In 1987, STDM convinced the government sports betting was a form of lottery. Macau SLOT then launched football betting just prior to the start of the 1988 World Cup. On 29 December 2000 they became the first legitimate company in Asia to offer NBA betting. Their online betting site macau-slot.com opened in 2002. Today, there are 12 Macau SLOT betting shops as well as online betting and telebet and 2012 net win was MOP 418 million.

Another of STDM’s subsidiaries Wing Hing gained concession for the monopoly on Bái gē piào (白鴿票) often written by westerners as Pa Ka Pio or Pacapio in 1990. This is the Chinese version of Keno and has draws every 15 minutes. The Wizard of Macau covers how to play Pacapio and even lists the odds and theoretic holds. Since 2010, Wing Hing has renewed this concession one year at a time. The most recent contract runs to 30 March 2014. The revenue is not as large as the other forms of gambling in Macau but in 2012 still exceeded MOP 6 million in profit.

Junket Providers, Tirad and Crime

If studying Macau Gambling Law it is important to understand two-thirds of gambling revenue here comes from junket operators bringing VIP clients. Their need arises from tight restrictions of moving money out of various countries. For example, Chinese are restricted from moving more than 20,000 yuan ($3180 USD) per day out of China without very difficult to obtain permission. Under Taiwanese law moving more than the equivalent of US$10,000 (80,000 patacas) requires special declaration.

As many VIP gamblers have no available means to wire large amounts across the border, and the amount of paper currency that can be taken legally out of the country is far smaller, this is where junket operators play a roll. They target the richest gamblers from the region, offer them concierge service, VIP treatment and more importantly credit betting. They collect the losses back in the gambler’s home country.

During the late 1990’s Macau was preparing for transfer from Portugal to China and the resources to stop crime were minimal. During this time gangs known as triads were in a constant battle with each other and police for the junket operation. There were bombings, murders and other sorts of terror. As reported in 1998 by the economist, violence was so widespread Macau’s security chief was reassuring scared tourists not to worry as “hitmen never missed their mark”. However, his own chauffeur was later shot in the head at close range. It was a very violent time in Macau history.

Improvement happened quickly after Macau transferred to Chinese sovereignty on 20 December 1999. Although we retained independence in nearly all matters and function much the same as being our own country, we did get urgent help from Mainland China. They provided military for the purpose of ridding the triad from Macau. While an impossible task to do in full, many arrests were made, violence was greatly reduced, and casino revenue quickly increased 42%.

Today, junket and credit operations are regulated by Administrative Regulation 6/2002 while Law 5/2004 provides the legal frame work for casino credit operations. Though major casinos now have licensed junkets there are still legal issues in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China as to how they operate. As a result organized crime is still involved and arrests do happen. For example: in summer 2012, 150 were arrested with help from Hong Kong Police and more recently Crown Casino had US$100 million cashed frozen by Taiwanese authorities. Still this something most tourists need be concerned with. Macau is the richest casino destination in the world and relies on tourism. As a SAR of China, Macau has the infrastructure and resources to keep criminal activity from becoming a safety threat. The United States has a Macau Safety Report that confirms everything here is relatively safe.

Macau SAR of China Ends Casino Monopoly

The STDM monopoly was still under contract when Macau SAR was established in December 1999. To prepare for the change in August 2001 Law No. 16/2001 stipulated that once STDM’s contract expired gambling would open for bid including to international companies. This was supplemented by Law No. 26/2001.

In 8 October 2011 bids from 8 companies were taken and exactly four month later it was announced the original “STDM” now named “SJM”, Galaxy and Wynn had won the bids. In time sub-concessions and modifications were made. Venetian was allowed to operate under Galaxy. SJM and Wynn allowed MGM to enter the market via a company half-owned by Stanley Ho’s daughter, and Australia’s Crown Limited via partnership in which his son is the chairmen.

Today, there 35 casinos in Macau of which SJM (owned 80% by STDM) owns 20. As for the rest, plenty of information on today’s Macau is widely available searching the web. If you’re thinking of taking a trip here I suggest taking a look at WikiTravel Macau for information. The purpose of this article was not for those topics but was rather to discuss Macau Gambling Law, our unique culture and history. For that, this article took days of research, writing and editing and I hope you feel all is covered well and accurately and have enjoyed the time spent reading this page.

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