Professor Zeng Zhonglu, who specializes in gaming research in Macau, pointed out that it is time for Macau to start a preliminary study on the feasibility of online gaming.
The physical gaming industry worldwide has been hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic. Professor Zeng Zhonglu, the course director of the Macau Polytechnic Institute’s Gaming Tourism Teaching and Research Center, stated that “this gaming enclave has sufficient conditions to explore the introduction of online micro-gaming and social gaming licenses”.
Zeng Zhonglu went on to explain: “One of the biggest concerns is that mainland China does not allow online gambling, but even mainland China also prohibits all forms of gambling, Macau is the only special area in China that allows gambling, so Macau should also have room to explore online gambling. Cybersecurity technology can also easily block mainland users from accessing Macau’s online gaming platform. These are just technical issues.”
Regarding money laundering concerns, Zeng Zhonglu suggested that Macau refer to the practices and experiences of overseas regions, such as the regulation of online gambling in the United Kingdom and United States.
“Even if future gambling re-bid auctions may not include online gambling, the Macau government should start research and discussion on online gambling in the short term,” he explained. “For example, to what extent can the central government accept the development of online gaming in Macau? What impact will it have on the physical gaming industry in Macau? 5G and the Internet are both future trends, and Macau should look for more opportunities.”
Zeng Zhonglu believes that online gaming is also a way for the government to promote the diversification of the Macau economy and gambling industry. “The Macau government will inevitably require gaming companies to assume more responsibility for the moderate diversification of the economy, and require the addition of more non-gaming elements. These requirements will be reflected in the new gambling contracts.”
Lawyer Carlos Eduardo Coelho from MdME Law firm pointed out in March 2020 that Macau’s current gambling legal framework already contains provisions concerning online gambling. According to Law No. 16/2001 (Legal System of Lucky Gaming in Macau Casinos), online gaming can be understood as “interactive gaming” in the provisions, and players can use telecommunications tools such as telephone, fax, Internet, data network, video and digital materials to participate in gaming. However, the Macau government has not yet issued franchise rights and operating regulations for online gaming, nor has it proposed any relevant bidding.