In Macau and a senior legislator has reportedly urged the government to consider legalizing some forms of iGaming so as to help the city’s public coffers recover from the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, Jose Maria Pereira Coutinho (pictured) has served as a member of the former Portuguese enclave’s Legislative Assembly since 2005 and believes that legalizing online gaming would also allow local businesses to further diversify their activities.

Significant supply:

Macau is home to some of the world’s largest and most famous gambling venues including the iconic Casino Grand Lisboa from SJM Holdings Limited with all of these properties reportedly required to pay a gross gaming revenues tax that typically hovers at around 39%. This levy provided around 90% of the city’s total income last year although local casinos recently experienced five consecutive months of coronavirus-induced downturns in which their aggregated takings fell by at least 90% year-on-year.

Closed market:

Inside Asian Gaming reported that almost all iGaming is currently prohibited in Macau with the sole exception of a few soccer and basketball-themed sportsbetting games operated by Macau Slot Company Limited. The source furthermore detailed that the recent coronavirus-provoked slump in gaming taxes has even led to the emergence of rumors that the city may be about to launch an inaugural lottery similar to the Mark Six service already offered to punters in nearby Hong Kong.

Coutinho reportedly proclaimed…

It is suggested that Macau should introduce interactive gaming. Macau’s government [should simultaneously] establish official standards and regulations on interactive gaming and develop interactive gaming software in order to increase revenues from gaming tax and further develop gaming industries in Macau.”

Scrutiny obligation:

Coutinho’s plea reportedly comes approximately four months after the enclave’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regulator declared that it was prepared to ‘listen to any suggestions that would help the development of the industry’ but would be required to ‘carefully study’ any moves towards legalizing online gambling.