he head of Macau’s gaming regulator is stepping down from his position amid the crisis the gambling industry is facing locally and globally due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paulo Chan, director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), will relinquish his position, Bloomberg reports, citing a spokeswoman from the Office of the Secretary for Economy and Finance. She said his successor will be announced in due course, declining to give further details.
Chan was granted a 12-month extension after the new administration led by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng was voted in last year. Macau News Agency first reported the news, which said Adriano Ho, an adviser to Macau’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, will replace Chan in June, citing unidentified people.
Chan’s departure comes months before his tenure was scheduled to end on December 1 and amid a significant hit to Macau’s casinos as the pandemic discourages gamblers from traveling to crowded places. Gross gaming revenue dropped by a record 97% to 754 million patacas ($94 million) in April from a year earlier, marking the seventh straight monthly decline. While casinos have reopened after a two-week shutdown in February due to the COVID-19 outbreak, challenges arose in terms of bringing gamblers back to baccarat and roulette tables.
Chan will return to work at the Office of the Prosecutor General, the spokeswoman said, where he was working previously before being appointed as the Macau gaming chief in December 2015. During his tenure, he helped steady the business when the city was seeing a free-fall in casino revenues amid a corruption crackdown in China that scared off high-stake players.