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Macau Legislators Concerned With New ‘Illegal Gambling Law’

Mahjong, Poker Could Be Seen As Violating Law

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A new law proposed by Macau’s Legislative Assembly banning “illegal gambling” has some on the island concerned that playing mahjong or poker at home could now be against the law. The bill leaves some wondering if the law is too vague and could put regular citizens in jeopardy of breaking the law.

Chan Chak Mo, Chairman of the Legislative Assembly Second Standing Committee, noted that “other laws do not have a very clear definition of illegal gambling. If it is a case of a few people betting with each other, or a few people playing poker and gambling in a park, or just a few people playing mahjong in a park, does it apply to the present law?”

Concerns Casual Betting With Friends Outlawed

Under the new rules, those who make wagers outside of the island’s legal gaming options can face up to eight years in prison.

The bill also refers to the legal option of “mutual betting,” meaning wagering on horse and dog racing. However, the Macau Jockey Club closed in March after 35 years in operation after years of financial losses and falling attendance.

Chan believes the term was included in the language of the law to eventually allow for simulcast horse betting, according to Inside Asia Gaming.

“I don’t know if the government was aware of the impending closure of the Jockey Club when it enacted the bill, and I need an explanation from them,” he said.

Further discussion of the proposal was set for discussion on Tuesday with a final vote on Thursday.

The Chinese casino hub recently regained its position as the top gaming destination in the world and has seen major casino revenue gains after the island faced a serious downturn during China’s COVID restrictions. The island has also seen tournament poker return including the World Poker Tour announcing a series coming to Macau in June.