行業新聞

Youngsters under 21 banned from casinos

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2011-05-07

From: Macau Daily Times 

Several years after the measure was announced, the government finally announced the draft law that will bring up the casino entry age from 18 to 21

People aged under 21 years won’t be allowed to enter and work inside a casino, according to the new draft law on restrictions for access, stay and gambling in casinos announced by the government yesterday.

The Administration has been vowing to push up the casino entry age in Macau from 18 to 21 for a long time. The new draft not only introduces an age limit but also new penalties for both gamblers and casino operators who breach the law.

Fines are set from MOP 1,000 to 10,000 for youngsters under 21 years who enter casinos while operators could pay a fine from MOP 10,000 to 500,000. Offenders could also face charges for civil disobedience.

In addition, the draft law is for the first time crystal clear on what happens if these youngsters win money in a casino. The winnings will be automatically forfeit to the government, Executive Council spokesperson Leong Heng Teng told reporters yesterday.

Several cases of teenagers under 18 winning money in casinos have been reported in the past few years. The winnings have been given to the minors’ parents due to grey areas in the gaming law.

The draft law also spells out “more details on access to casinos, as well as the exclusion of people from the gaming area, issues that are mentioned in the current law, but too briefly,” Leong explained.

‘If minors are not allowed to keep the money they win

[at the casino] and may face fines there will be no incentive at all [to gamble].

It will a total loss’: Davis Fong

The law will enable the Administration to ban any person from entering in casinos upon a voluntary request or one put forward by relatives.

The law is not applicable to existent employees but after it comes into effect casinos will only be able to hire employees aged 21 years and over.

The new law brings no news on law enforcement. “This law must be upheld. If there is any problem, the law is here to solve it,” Leong merely said.

He added: “The gaming industry does not always allow for a very rigid control, but closer communication between the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau [DICJ] and operators can be a way to better enforce the law.”

Au Ieong Kit, a DICJ legal advisor, confirmed that the law does not spell out “detailed measures”. Leong added that the government is following the experience of other gaming jurisdictions, like Singapore, stressing the main goal is to prevent young people from becoming problem gamblers.

Dealers should take part

Despite doubts on enforcement, the director of the University of Macau’s Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming, Davis Fong Ka Chio, believes the new law will be effective.

“It applies to gamblers and workers, so it will satisfy some of society’s needs to minimise the risk of young dealers,” he said.

Secondly, “the law will decrease the probability of people under 21 years entering casinos because if they are not allowed to keep the money they win and may face fines there will be no incentive at all [to gamble].

“It will be a total loss,” he added.

Fong stressed that even though fines are not so high, the draft law is “good enough.”

Nonetheless, he suggested that dealers should help police officers and security guards to spot minors inside casinos.

“Dealers should also be required to be on the lookout for these youngsters. There are lots of dealers in the gaming floor and they have enough time to observe people. I would encourage casino operators to provide some training to dealers, just like in Australia, for instance,” he said.

On the other hand, according to professor Desmond Lam, expert on Chinese Psychology of Gambling, the new law could benefit employees.

“People are given a chance to do something else instead of working in casinos. In terms of quality of life, that’s good for Macau,” he stressed.

Still, Lam has doubts on whether the law enforcement will work well. “Casinos are very open and it’s not hard to get in. How can one ensure that youngsters under 21 years won’t sneak in during the Golden Week?” he questioned.

The expert believes the only way to stop youths from entering casinos is by establishing heavy penalties and fines. “You can’t check everyone’s ID, specially in peak seasons,” he added.

The draft law will be now submitted to the Legislative Assembly for discussion and approval.

Copyright ©Macau Daily Times

 

- 23 Jun 2011