No junket rooms or rev share contracts under Macau’s new gaming law

Macau Administration and Justice Secretary Mr. André Cheong Weng Chon has announced that amendments to the Macau Gaming Law will see the end of dedicated junket halls in Macau casinos and agreements to revenue sharing between junkets and dealers in Macau casinos.

The announcement, made Friday evening at a press conference providing the media with extensive details of the much-awaited changes to the gambling law, ends these arrangements which have been standard operating procedure in Macau for more than three decades. .

The first seeds of Macau’s junk food industry germinated nearly 100 years ago in the 1930s, when then-monopoly concessionaire Tai Heng Company employed Jin-ke (literally “recruiting customers”) to organize trips to Macau from surrounding areas.

But it was Macau gambling legend Dr. Stanley Ho who took junkets to a whole new level in the 1970s when he brokered deals with Daa Maa Zai (chip rollers), offering them a 0.7% commission on chip roller returns to facilitate the safe passage of mainly Hong Kong-based visitors to its new Casino Lisboa.

This was followed in 1986 by the opening of the famous “Diamond Room” at Casino Lisboa, a casino within a casino which set the pattern for VIP clubs operated by junkets until December last year. The influence of junkets grew after liberalisation, with junkets arguably becoming pseudo-operators in their own right, a reality recognized when the term ‘gambling promoters’ made its way into the Gambling Act 2001. Macau. This was followed by the Game Promoters Regulations in 2002, which provided for an annual license for junkets by Macau’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (known as DICJ).

Junkets suffered an existential crisis in the last five weeks of 2021 when an arrest warrant for Alvin Chau, the CEO of Macau’s leading junket operator Suncity, was issued by the Wenzhou Public Security Bureau. Chau was arrested by Macau authorities the following day and held without bail, which resulted in the cessation of all Suncity junket operations and the closure of all junket halls at Macau’s six dealerships.

The upcoming changes announced by Cheong leave the door open for junkets and VIP play to continue in a significantly reduced role, still receiving a commission on turnover in arrangements like those seen in Singapore and Australia, but would see the junkets as mere shadows of themselves.

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