Macau (MNA) – If the newly proposed regulation barring gaming workers from entering casino floors outside work hours are to be effective in curbing problem gaming it would likely require casino operators to implement sophisticated identification technology, gaming expert Ben Lee told Macau News Agency (MNA).
“[The ban] would require a centralised ID swipe/monitoring system similar to that deployed by Immigration auto-gates,” the IGamiX Management & Consulting Ltd. Managing Partner told MNA.
Last Friday, Macau authorities officially presented a law proposal revising the 2012 regulations for entry, work and gaming in casinos.
Despite previous government indications, the bill proposes that apart from gaming tables and machine workers such as card dealers the ban would include workers who perform functions less directly connected to gaming such as in the cashier’s offices, public relations areas, restoration, cleaning and security in casinos.
The only exception would be for the first three days of the Lunar New Year and in situations justified for entry to the casinos, such as training or associative activities.
The proposed regulations also establish a possible fine of between MOP1,000 (US$125) and MOP10,000 for workers caught infringing the law.
Previously, the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) justified the postponed changes due to reports by academic professionals and by the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) indicating that frontline gaming workers have a higher propensity to develop gambling addiction habits.
At the time, DICJ head Paulo Martins Chan stated that the new regulations would be enforced through enhanced video surveillance and increasing the number of inspectors to around 150.
According to Mr. Lee, the ban “would remove the temptation for those problem gamblers to start,” adding that although problem gamblers could find alternative forms of betting such as on horse racing “the size of bets and the frequency would not be as damaging.”
The gaming expert further stated that the bans mirror those in other jurisdictions with gaming employees sometimes banned from playing in casinos in the same cities or even states where their place of employment is located.
“This is to prevent problem gambling as well as the development of scams where players can mingle freely in a casino environment albeit not in their own,” he added. “Being shift workers, the 24-hour environment also proves attractive to dealers as they believe they have sufficient knowledge to beat the house.”
The expert also said that banning employees who are not directly linked to gaming activities per se is also common and if there is a ban all casino staff should be included.
In terms of possible impact upon gaming revenues, the gaming consultant stated that any “impact overall would be minimal but selective” with casinos and slots parlours that depend more on local business than others [likely] to be more impacted.
The proposed regulations will now undergo debate in the Macau Legislative Assembly (AL).