Macau, once a gambling paradise and a haven for casino establishments has tightened a number of regulations in the last 18 months that has made it very difficult for casinos to operate like before and those regulations are having a serious impact on the revenue being generated by these casinos.

Steve Wynn, billionaire and chairman of Wynn Resorts was patient for the last 18 months over the anti-corruption crackdown in Macau but last week lashed out at Macau’s authorities and the intensifying regulations that are being implemented to govern the industry. Wynn was very outspoken and termed some of the government’s decisions and regulations as mystical and completely outrageous. Wynn in particular targeted the table cap restriction imposed by the government on the casinos and termed it as the ‘single most counterintuitive and irrational decision that was ever made.”

His strong condemnation of Macau’s authorities hogged the headlines and did not go down well with the Macau government. Their initial response was very diplomatic as they never replied directly to Steve Wynn’s comments but nevertheless stated that the government would not change its policies and regretted the opinions released on these matters. The Macau government also requested for a meeting with Gamal Aziz, the president of Wynn Macau.

In perhaps an unrelated matter, local broadcaster Teledifusão de Macau released a quote by Cloee Chao which said “Authorities have already sent people to inspect the casino, but the gaming operator would rather get fined than improve the situation. I think the punishment is too weak and they will keep on repeating the same violation.”

Striking workers complained that the casino had converted a mass market gaming area into a new smoking lounge and made staff enter this area and supply ashtrays to customers. The Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau, the Labour Affairs Bureau and the Health Bureau wasted no time in investigating these claims and reported that Wynn Macau had indeed violated smoking regulations and also had no non-smoking signs put up as required by law. The authorities came down hard on Wynn Macau management and asked them to take immediate steps to rectify these non-compliance concerns.

Just for violating the no-smoking signs, Wynn Macau could be fined anywhere between MOP10,000 to MOP100,000 (about US$12,500). A representative from Wynn Macau stated that this breach occurred due to a misinterpretation of regulations and that the casino had immediately made amends and transformed the smoking area.