Would gaming industry regulatory affairs be under the Secretary for Security?
Insight provided by Pedro Cortés, Senior Partner at Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortés – Advogados

Pursuant to an administrative restructure and in line with the recommendations given in the Macau SAR Mutual Evaluation Report of 2017 issued by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), in October 2018, the Financial Intelligence Office (GIF) passed into the Secretary for Security of Macau. 

GIF is the financial watchdog empowered with, among others, competences and duties which include the analysis of information and report of suspicious money laundering activities to the Public Prosecution Office, as well as to provide assistance to law enforcement agencies, judicial authorities and other entities empowered to prevent and prohibit money laundering and terrorist financing crimes, collaboration with public entities to establish and revise anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing guidelines.

This move of supervision from the Secretary of Economy and Finance into the leadership of the Secretary for Security, despite being well announced in the news of that time, might be seen, today, as a wider policy matter vis-à-vis a few have considered back then.

When we consider such move with the change of head of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which was announced yesterday, being advanced Mr. Adriano Marques Ho, currently an adviser to the Secretary for Security, we may speculate that the Macau Government may be considering to change the entire gaming industry regulatory and inspection affairs from the supervision of the Economy and Finance into the Security.

This not seem to be new in the gaming industry worldwide. If we consider the Gaming Control Boards in the United States of America and, specifically, the Nevada Gaming Commission powers, we will conclude that there within its bodies a special enforcement division, with competences of regulatory enforcement, dispute investigations, intelligence investigations and analysis, as well as employee investigation. 

Different approach seems to occur currently in Portugal. Despite also being empowered with police powers, the Gambling Inspection and Regulation Service (Serviço de Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos) is responsible for the control, inspection and regulation of gambling activities in casinos and bingo halls (territorial concessions), as well as long-distance gambling (fixed-odds sports betting and mutual or fixed-odds horse race betting) through any electronic, computer-based, telematic or any other interactive means (online gambling and betting). This authority is under the supervision of “Turismo de Portugal, I.P.”, a public institute under the supervision of the Secretary of State for Tourism, which is under the Ministry of Economy. 

In Singapore the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) is under the Ministry of Home Affairs and has under its mission and values to ensure that the management and operation of a casino is carried out by persons who are suitable and remains free from criminal influence or exploitation. 

Back to Macau, and for the reasons mentioned, there are signs that may let some get the conclusion that, in the near future, we will have the gaming watchdog under the Secretary for Security, which may, at a first glance, be contradictory with the role of Macau as an international tourism destination. However, changes of supervisory Secretary is not something new, as the Tourism Bureau has also moved recently from the Secretary for Social and Cultural Affairs to the Secretary for Economy and Finance. 

It is also possible that the Inspection part of the current Bureau be the one to move to the leadership of the Secretary for Security, staying the Coordination and Regulation in the Gaming Commission, which was re(created) in 2010 although yet to have a stronger role.