Legislator demands action against ‘collusion’ between casinos and gaming officials

Legislator José Pereira Coutinho, today (Wednesday) called on the city’s Chief Executive to take action against what he described as “collusion” between casinos and those responsible for regulating the gambling sector, in order to stop employment abuses.

Coutinho argued at the Legislative Assembly (AL) that “the time has come for the CE to intervene in the face of the recent upheavals at the top of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ),” in a reference to new appointments to the posts of director and deputy director of the gaming watchdog.

The legislator expressed that “the abuses practised by some gambling concessionaires have been widely denounced” in the assembly and in the media, but that “the competent authorities, out of stubbornness, do not intervene and are not even interested in knowing.”

This, he said, is only understandable “because there is a permanent collusion between these companies and the most important officials in the gambling area.”

He pointed out that for more than a decade he had denounced “the great pressure” on employees in the gambling sector to resign “at the risk of being fired and being included in concessionaires’ blacklists […] so making it impossible for them to be hired by any other company linked to casinos.”

This “history”, he said, means that “one cannot understand why the competent authorities in the area of the Secretariat for Economy and Finance close their eyes to these systematic abuses as if they had nothing to do with their professional skills, obligations and responsibilities.”

Many of the people who have lost their jobs in this way are non-resident workers from other countries in Asia who then “drift about the streets of the city, some asking for money to buy food and others asking for support from local associations,” he said “Incredibly, the government is aware of these situations, but it does not act in time to alleviate the suffering of the workers made redundant.”

He blamed the government for the “social confusion” following changes to legislation on the hiring of non-resident workers.

The overwhelming majority of Macau’s economic activity and government revenues come from taxes on casino gambling. The territory – a special administrative region of China – is the only place in the country where gambling in casinos is legal.

The sector suffered unprecedented losses last year, with casinos ending the year with total revenues of MOP60.4 billion, down 79.3 per cent from 2019.