The Macau government has vowed to strengthen regulation of the territory’s gambling industry as casino licenses come up for renewal and will push for more non-gaming activities.
Macau Chief Executive Dr Fernando Chui Sai-on, in his annual policy address, said the government will study the possibility of regularly requiring casinos to submit their investment and development plans for review.
“After a decade of opening up and rapid growth of the gaming industry, the pace of development has started to slow down,” he said. “The government will strive to adjust the pace without changing the momentum, seeking stable growth amid adjustments.”
“This year, the government will summarise and analyse the development since the opening up of the gaming industry, and will come up with strategies,” he said. “We will enhance gaming-related laws and regulations, strengthen supervision of the gaming industry, regulate gaming businesses’ operation and continue to push for responsible gaming.”
Macau’s gambling industry suffered its first annual decline in 2014 since the market was liberalized as China’s clampdown on corruption, a slowing mainland economy, visa restrictions and a smoking ban all combined to deter gamblers. The drop has continued into the first quarter of this year, with Wells Fargo forecasting a decline in gross gambling revenue of between 37 percent to 39 percent for March.
Chui cut his forecast for monthly gambling revenue to 20 billion patacas ($2.5 billion) this year, down from an earlier estimate of 27.5 billion patacas.
However, Chui also noted the possible impact on employment that may arise from a slowdown in the gambling industry and said measures will be taken to prevent the problem from affecting other industries.
At present, Macau enjoys almost full employment, though the economy contracted by 17 percent in the fourth quarter of last year as the gambling industry slumped.
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