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Macau’s Top Regulator Resigns

Macau’s Top Regulator Resigns

In May, Paulo Martins Chan resigned as head of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).

A former government prosecutor, Chan served a little over four years as head of the DICJ, as the inspectorate is known by its Portuguese initials. He will return to the Public Prosecutions Office, according to local news reports.

Chan took over as top casino regulator in December 2015 in the midst of an official campaign across mainland China targeting corruption and lavish spending by government and Communist Party officials. High-rolling gamblers got the message and went on hiatus. VIP gambling revenues, which at the time accounted for around two-thirds of total winnings, plummeted. And the junkets that facilitate the high-end trade through various underground banking means found themselves in an unwelcome spotlight; dozens went out of business.

Accordingly, Chan’s tenure was marked by a tightening of gaming regulations, especially as it applied to junkets, and he is credited with bringing greater transparency and supervision to what largely had been an opaque and loosely managed system.

Chan was succeeded by Adriano Marques Ho, an adviser to Secretary for Security Wong Sio Cha. Ho formerly was in charge of a unit of the government’s Judiciary Police, investigating gaming-related and economic crimes. He also served for several years as head of the local division of the China National Central Bureau of Interpol.

Chan’s crackdown hastened calls for Macau’s development into a more diverse resort-style destination with a greater focus on mass-market tourism. As he departs, all eyes are on how these goals will affect the current six casino concessions, which will expire in 2022.

While it’s widely expected the concessions will be renewed, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng has said an open tender will be conducted, with no restrictions on bidders. A public consultation to be held later this year could mean amendments to the gaming laws that govern this process.

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