Undergoing review at the Legislative Assembly

Macau's new law on combating illegal gambling crimes excludes illicit money exchange

Reading time 1:17 min

According to local media reports, Macau's Law on Combating Illegal Gambling Crimes will not include provisions addressing illegal money exchange. Still, the Macau government has not ruled out the possibility of criminalizing such activities, exploring alternative options. The draft bill, set to replace the current Illegal Gambling Law (Law 8/96/m), is currently undergoing review at the Legislative Assembly (AL).

Chan Chak Mo, the Head of the Second Standing Committee of AL, said after a bill review meeting on Thursday that while the proposed legislation does not target illegal money exchange, the Macau government takes this matter seriously. According to the official, local authorities emphasized that illegal money exchange activities taking place in casinos and surrounding tourism facilities have impacted the development of the gaming industry, economy, and society as a whole.

Chan Chak Mo

Therefore, the government remains open to the idea of criminalizing these activities and is considering implementing penalties such as entry bans as a potential solution, said Chan Chak Mo. Earlier this month, China’s Ministry of Public Security urged security forces in Macau and the mainland to strengthen cooperation in cracking down on illegal money exchange businesses in the Macau SAR, as reported by Macau Business.

The so-called 'money changers', usually located around the city's casinos, have been identified as a key channel for moving funds across different jurisdictions, particularly between the Chinese mainland and Macau.

Driven by huge profits, the scale of the 'money exchange gangs' providing large amounts of cash exchange and high-interest loan services illegally in Macau has expanded rapidly, mainland authorities said, adding that it had triggered other illegal activities such as fighting, fraud, theft, and smuggling, severely affecting local social order and stability.

In late 2023, Macau’s Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, had already indicated the SAR government’s consideration of criminalizing illicit money exchange. It should be noted that the first quarter of the year saw a rise in illicit activity, even higher than the comparable level in pre-pandemic 2019.

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