Unchartered territory: embracing iGaming in Macau

Local professor in Macau calls for research on the feasibility of online gaming

Interview published with kind permission from Inside Asian Gaming – Asian Lead Media Partner for SiGMA Manila 2020

Dr. Zhonglu Zeng, a Polytechnic Institute Professor in Macau says the time has come for the government in Macau to start considering allowing the launch of small-turnover online betting and social gaming licenses. 

Macau’s gaming framework already references online gaming and refers to it as interactive gaming, under Law 16/2001 by which players can participate by means of telecommunications including “telephone, fax, internet, data networks and video or digital data transmission.” 

Nevertheless, the government has not yet issued regulations governing the concession and operation of online gaming and according to Dr. Zhonglu Zeng they should start looking into it now.

As we recently reported, Macau is fighting with an 80% drop in casino revenues due to the Corona crisis. Visitor numbers have fallen from over 108,000 per day in 2019 to only 50,000 per week recently. 

Read more about recent drop in casino revenues in Macau:

Zeng told Inside Asian Gaming: “One of the biggest concerns is that online gaming is forbidden in mainland China, however, mainland China bans any kind of gambling, right? Macau is a special enclave which allows gambling in China, thus Macau also has the space to explore opportunities for online gaming,” and added: “Network security could also easily block users from mainland China from accessing Macau’s online gaming platform. It is just a technical issue.” 

Zeng suggests that Macau draws upon experience from online gaming operations in the United States and United Kingdom. 

Macao Polytechnic Institute Professor, Dr. Zhonglu Zeng.

“Even though the re-tendering of gaming concessionaires would not include the considerations of online gaming, the SAR government should start research and discussion about online gaming in the short-term,” Zeng explained. “For example, to what extent could the mainland Chinese government accept online gaming in Macau? What influence could this have on the physical gaming industries in Macau? 5G and the internet is the way of the future, so Macau should use it to find more opportunities.” 

Zeng added that online gaming would also fulfill the government’s own policy of pursuing diversification of Macau’s economy and gaming industries. If the Macau government pursues this direction there would be some competition for Manila which is currently the main hub for handing out online gaming licenses in Asia. 

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