ccording to the new draft law that restricts access to gaming areas, any person can be banned from entering casinos if they submit a voluntary request or accepts one put forward by relatives.
But the members of the first standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) have a different opinion, as they believe that it would be “very difficult” to get the consent for an exclusion order. “That would only happen with people who are really keen on overcoming their addiction,” committee president Kwan Tsui Hang told journalists.
Lawmakers believe “out of control” gamblers will reject any ban “and so their situation will not improve in the slightest,” she added. The exclusion requests are to be evaluated on a case-to-case basis.
In a meeting with secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen, the committee members said that “in the most serious cases” casino bans should not rely on the consent of the gambler. The government representatives promised “to study the committee’s suggestions,” Kwan said.
If the draft law were to come into effect, people aged less than 21 years of age won’t be permitted to enter and work inside a casino, currently the minimum age is 18 years-old. But lawmakers called on the government to reduce the scope of the proposal, claiming many non-related gaming jobs will be included, restricting the number of jobs available for young people.
The number of residents affected by the change “is not very large,” Kwan acknowledged. Last year there were 12,622 people between the ages of 18 and 21 working in Macau, according to statistics released by authorities. However, just 2,800 were employed in casinos and only half of those engaged positions directly linked to gaming.
The restrictions will affect “a wide range of jobs,” including security, cleaning, entertainment and restaurant staff, the lawmaker stressed. “It will affect people’s right to choose their employment,” she said. For instance, Kwan added, people under 21 will not be allowed to work in restaurants whose only entrance is inside the casino. “We suggest that consideration should be given to the possibility of restricting solely those [positions] that have a direct contact with gaming,” namely dealers, pit and floor supervisors, she said.
Lawmakers are also concerned about the enforcement of the draft law. “Its enforcement will be as difficult as it is with the minimum age set at 18,” Kwan said. “The government should create the right tools to allow gaming concessionaires to enforce the law and make sure no one under 21 enters a casino,” the committee president stressed.
The proposal allows for “supervisors of casino gaming rooms” to ask for a patron’s identification and the Chief Executive can also authorise “other entities” to do the same. But lawmakers want security guards to ask for the identification of patron’s immediately upon entry to gaming areas. “Why not? We emphasised to the government that this measure has been applied outside of Macau,” Kwan said.
For instance, in Singapore everyone must show identification at the entrance of casinos, also because there is a us$ 83 daily entry tax for local residents. Secretary Francis Tam promised to look into this possibility, the lawmaker said. On the other hand, Kwan said that so far none of the six casino operators had sent any opinion on the draft law to the commission.
During the discussion of the law on tobacco control, which imposed a partial ban on smoking inside of casinos, gaming concessionaires asked for a meeting with lawmakers to make their opinions heard.