Macau’s government is taking a decisive step in combatting illegal gambling with a proposed legislation that explicitly bans online and side betting. The penalties for gambling activities will also be increased.

The Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong, announced the bill, highlighting that it will replace the outdated legislation from 1996. The new regulations will officially classify side betting as unlawful, addressing a notable factor that has been reducing the government’s tax revenue.

In addition to banning online gambling activities, the bill removes the location of an operation’s IT systems as a factor, making it more difficult for operators to evade regulation.

To combat these typically nocturnal activities, the proposed legislation grants the police the authority to conduct searches in private residences between 9 pm and 7 am, without requiring residents’ permission. This marks a significant change from previous requirements that hindered police operations.

Not only will the bill increase penalties for illegal gambling, but it could also result in up to eight years of imprisonment for offenders. Leong Weng, Director of Legal Affairs Bureau (DSAJ), has emphasized the need for stricter punishments. The bill will now be submitted to the Legislative Assembly for debate, analysis, and voting, bringing Macau one step closer to curbing illegal gambling and ensuring fair play.

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