is the set of rules and regulations that apply to the gaming or gambling industry, including table games, slot machines, pari-mutuels (horse and greyhound racing), lotteries and sports betting.
In the Macau legal system, gaming law is not considered as a branch of law in the traditional sense. Instead, it may be considered as a transversal gathering of a range of legal topics more or less directly related to gaming, including constitutional law
, administrative law
, tax law
, company law
, contract law
and criminal law
. In this manner, issues of public law as well as private law are of relevance for gaming.
Administrative law issues
In the Macau SAR
, the regulation of gaming is premised on administrative law concepts which are similar to other civil law
From the perspective of administrative law, gaming is based on the concept of administrative concessions (and sub-concessions), supervision of concessionaires, and powers of government intervention. Gaming law in Macau is currently being reformed. Immediately after the transfer of sovereignty the Government of the Macau SAR has embarked in a major overhaul of the gaming sector, by opening the sector to various operators so as to generate competition. This has meant the granting of various concessions and subconcessions to operators other than the historical operator, STDM/SJM (see Law no. 16/2001, of September 24).
As a result, there are currently six concessions and subconcessions of casino games of fortune: Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (known as SJM; headed by Stanley Ho); [Galaxy Casino] (a subsidiary of Galaxy Entertainment Group, from Hong Kong); Wynn Resorts (of Steve Wynn); Venetian Macau (Sheldon Adelson); a partnership of MGM with Pansy Ho (daughter of Stanley Ho); and a partnership of Melco and PBL of Australia.
There are also monopoly concessions for pari-mutuels (horse and dog racing), lotteries and sports betting.
Each of these operators has signed a concession contract with the Macau SAR; the text of such contracts can be seen in the website of the Macau Gaming Inspection (see links below).
Concessions allow the opening of more than one casino.
Regarding gaming promoters, from an administrative law perspective the prime issue is their licensing and regulation, which was initiated in 2002. Gaming promoters are subject to a licensing system rather than to a system of concessions. The main applicable law is Administrative Regulation no. 6/2002. Lists of gaming promoters currently authorized are available in the website of the Macau Gaming Inspection (see links below).
Company law issues
From the perspective of company law, gaming concessionaires must be public companies, to which special rules apply, in addition to the general rules stated in the Macau Commercial Code 1999, as amended. There are also specific company law rules related to gaming promoters.
Tax law issues
The taxation of casino sub/concessionaires is made of a fixed part and a variable part.
The variable part falls on the gross gaming revenue. The tax rate is currently of 35%, plus two contributions of up to 2% and 3% for social and economic purposes. The maximum tax is therefore 40%.
In addition, a fixed premium is also payable, plus a premium per VIP table, other table, and slot machine.
Gaming promoters pay taxes on commissions received.
Contract law issues
From the perspective of contract law, gaming and betting are contracts which may or may not generate civil or natural obligations for the parties. The matter is regulated in the Civil Code 1999 (art. 1171), which states, drawing from Roman law, that gaming and betting generate natural obligations except in sports competitions and where the law provides otherwise. The problem is that gaming legislation currently does not provide to this effect.
Regarding credit for gaming, Macau law states since 2004 that the granting of credit for casino games of fortune generates civil obligations, which are fully enforceable in Macau courts. Credit for casino games of fortune is defined as any case where chips are passed on to a player without immediate cash payment of such chips; this is an intentionally broad concept. Credit for gaming is regulated by Law no. 5/2004, of June 14.
Criminal law issues
From the perspective of criminal law, there are specific criminal offences related to gaming; see Law 8/96/M, of July 22, and Law 9/96/M, of July 22. Other criminal law matters are covered by broader laws: the Penal Code and the law on organized crime. Game cheating is mentioned in art. 6 of Law 8/96/M, of July 22. In addition, general laws on the prevention and repression of money laundering
and the financing of terrorism through casinos apply.
Competition law matters, and advertising law, as well as the impact of WTO law on gaming, may also be pointed out as part of gaming law.
Regarding online gaming, the Macau SAR does not currently grant concessions for online casinos. The current casino concessions only cover land-based gaming, not online gaming.
- Jorge Godinho, Credit for gaming in Macau, Gaming Law Review, Aug 2006, Vol. 10, No. 4: 363-368.
- Jorge Godinho, Macau Business Law and Legal System, LexisNexis, Hong Kong, 2007 (ISBN 9789628937271)
- Jorge Godinho, The Regulation of Gaming and Betting Contracts in the 1999 Macau Civil Code, Gaming Law Review, vol. 11, no. 3, 2007, 572 ff
- Governo de Macau, O Jogo em Macau, 1985.
- ANGELA LEONG, The “bate-ficha” business and triads in Macau casinos, QUEENSLAND U. OF TECH. L. & JUST. 84 (2002)