he new rule is the latest setback to Macau’s casinos, after China’s state-backed payment card UnionPay pledged to crack down on “suspicious practices” involving illegal hand-held payment devices commonly used in and around gaming halls.
Last month it emerged that tens of billions of yuan were being funneled out of the mainland and into Macau’s casinos – in breach of national currency controls – with the use of such hand-held devices.
Officially reported gaming revenue in Macau stood at US $45 billion last year, but one analyst estimated there was a further $90 billion unreported. Shares in Macau’s top casino and entertainment companies slumped in response to the announcement of the tightened entry requirements.
It is the second time in six years that Macau has reduced the maximum period of stay for mainland travelers. In 2008, the permitted stay was reduced from 14 days to seven. Under the new rule, transiting mainland tourists who re-enter Macau within 30 days of a previous overstay will only be allowed to stay in the enclave for one day – down from the current two days.
If tourists overstay a second time they will be denied entry for 60 days – and if they are caught trying to enter within that time, the ban will be extended by another 60 days, according to police.