Beijing continues to be relentless in its fight against corruption specifically targeting Macau’s casinos and VIP gamblers who spend lavish sums of money without clearly accounting for their source of income. The crackdown which started during the early part of 2014 has continued into 2015 and the Chinese government has confirmed that there will be no let up.
The stringent campaign has scared VIP and high stake gamblers away from Macau causing casinos to lose significant sums of revenue estimated to be around $100 billion. Macau’s VIP gamblers are now moving overseas to places like the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam where there are less restrictions on gambling.
The director of Beijing’s liaison office in Macau, Li Gang recently announced that China is specifically monitoring public officials who travel to Macau and visit casinos. These officials are under the scrutiny of the authorities and Li Gang warned these officials to stay away from Macau’s casinos or accept the consequences.
Macau casino officials have been specifically instructed to monitor all visitors who enter their casinos and perform identity checks on customers who request for a VIP casino table. Chinese public officials and VIP gamblers are used to frequenting Macau’s casinos and indulging themselves in VIP treatment that is specially tailored for them.
Recent reports suggest that public officials and VIP gamblers are now looking to slip pass the authorities by working together with junket operators and use proxy betting. This method allows for the VIP gambler to sit on the mainland and still play at the casino via a representative who takes instructions via a call. Gang confirmed that the authorities were aware of such practices and will prosecute anyone who indulges in such activities. According to recent report by Morgan Stanley, “Wynn [Macau] has allowed proxy betting to cushion the decline;”
Gang also urged Macau to work out an agreement with Beijing that would allow them to prosecute corrupt officials who flee Mainland China. Hong Kong currently has such an agreement with Mainland China and Gang wants Macau’s government to enter into a similar agreement. In a statement, Gang said “once any criminal fled to Macau with money, the Macau authorities could repatriate [him], so as to jointly crack down on crimes.”