The regulatory system in Macau has been like a Chinese menu, if you’ll pardon the pun. Take one from Column A, two from Column B, etc. The point is, you never knew what you were going to get from regulators. Sometimes they were very strict, other times they seemed to look the other way.
When Adriano Ho took over as director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) after a long reign from previous director Paulo Martins Chan ended in 2020, it was clear many things were going to change. First of all, the renewal of the concessions came with a reform package for the entire gaming industry in Macau, including the regulations.
Unlike Chan, however, who wasn’t shy about stating his views on regulations, Ho has been relatively quiet about his approach to the organization. But then again, Ho’s background in law enforcement wouldn’t indicate such an openness. Prior to becoming DICJ director, Ho was an adviser to the secretary for security. Prior to that position, he was head of the Macao Sub-Bureau of the China National Central Bureau of Interpol from 2004 to 2010. He also led the Judiciary Police Criminal Investigation Department from 2010 to 2012 and was chief of the gaming-related Economic Crimes Investigation Department from 2012 to 2014.
In the gaming reform bill that accompanied the concession renewal for all six concessionaires in November, the DICJ will be given an expanded role of the once-dominant junket segment of the industry. Junkets now are going to be regulated much more strictly when it comes to licensing and revenue. Both casinos and the junket operators will now be responsible for all operations and revenue from the junket operations, with more transparency demanded.
In addition, there will be caps on the number of table games and slots, controls over who can hold shares in the gaming companies, and more emphasis on creating non-gaming attractions, although it’s unclear if the DICJ is going to enforce those imperatives.
Ho served as a member of the committee that evaluated the bids of the concessionaires, so his views are becoming increasingly important. Another element that will be strictly watched will be the employment rights of Macau residents. All the concessionaires have been acutely aware of their employees during the ongoing Covid crisis, and Ho’s interest could have played a role.
But it appears the DICJ will play a central role in the implementation and enforcement of the requirements outlined in the agreements, which were due to be signed by the end of 2022. Ho was quite clear in outlining his agency’s role.
“Following the grant of the new concessions, we will closely monitor the gaming concessionaires’ implementation of what they have promised in their bids, which will include the exercising of their social responsibilities for ensuring the gaming industry can be sustained healthily, that local residents’ employment interests are protected, and that they are supporting the diversification of the economy.”