Changes in the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) management are another step into better regulatory enforcement of the local gaming sector, analysts told Macau News Agency (MNA).
MNA reported today that after five years as head of the DICJ, Paulo Martins Chan, will step down from the position, with Adriano Marques Ho, an advisor to Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, to be appointed to the top gaming watchdog position in June.
According to the Office of the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Chan himself requested to step down from his functions so that he could return to the Public Prosecutions Office, where he had served as assistant prosecutor-general between 2009 and 2015.
“To my observation, Mr.Paulo Chan assumed his position in a tough period during the need to adjust the development path of the industry. Nevertheless, he did a great job by employing his professional knowledge in the legal area to launch a number of revisions and improvements of the existing regulatory framework for the appropriate adjustments of the industry,” Professor Ricardo Chi Sen Siu, Associate Professor at the University of Macau Faculty of Business Administration, told MNA.
Mr. Chan’s tenure came after local gross gaming revenues had seen a steep drop following the effects of a Chinese central govenrment corruption crackdown in the VIP results.
This led to calls for a higher focus on the mass market and towards more economic diversification, with a tightening in the local gaming regulatory framework, especially concerning local junket operations.
Improved regulations and audit in the sector have also led to a decrease in the number of authorised VIP gaming promoters since a peak high of 235 in 2013, with the department having also completed new legislation to better control the sector but that has yet to be submitted to the Legislative Assembly for deliberation.
New instructions enforced in September 2019 also started requirings gaming operators and junkets to obtain authorisation by the DICJ to transfer any information to third parties concerning the gaming activities of players.
Chan’s tenure in the office also included the extension of SJM’s and MGM China’s respective gaming concessions until 2022 to match the remaining deadline for the other four gaming operators’ concessions.
However, little has been advanced so far by the local government on how the gaming law will be revised and how the future gaming concession public tender process will be conducted.
During his first-ever policy address, CE Ho Iat Seng only stated that the public tender will be held without any restrictions on the bidders and that a public consultation on amendments to the city’s current gaming industry law will be held in the second half of this year.
According to Managing Partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting, Ben Lee, the appointment of Chan in 2015 was at the time “appropriate for bringing in a novel standard of transparency and regulatory enforcement” and “brought in transparency and a new level of professionalism to the DICJ”.
At the time Chan succeeded Manuel Joaquim das Neves, who had held the position for nearly two decades before his retirement.
“I think this latest change is CE Ho bringing his team in line, people who hopefully will finally be able to lay the foundations for a real diversification of Macau’s economy away from the mainland, gaming and local tycoons,” Lee told MNA.
Adriano Ho has been one of the top advisors to Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak since 2014 and was previously head of the Judiciary Police’s (PJ) gaming-related and economic crimes investigation unit from 2012 to 2014, when Wong was PJ director.
Previous to that, he headed the PJ’s Criminal Investigation Department from 2010 to 2012 and the was the head of the local Sub-Bureau of the China National Central Bureau of INTERPOL from 2004 to 2010.
Without specifically addressing the appointment of Adriano Ho, Professor Siu considered that he could see a trend of the Macau SAR Government to “improve the supervision” of the gaming industry for its “healthy growth and development”.