The agency said the legislation update included defining a specific crime of “organising and soliciting by casinos abroad”, means by which mainland residents could be taken overseas to gamble. The amendment also reportedly featured adjusted penalty terms for the existing crime of “establishment of casinos” within the mainland.
The report did not specify the proposed penalties either for the new crime, or the new penalties for the existing crime of setting up mainland casinos; nor when the proposal would be likely to come into effect.
But the report highlighted official criticism – albeit not attributed to an identified source – against “cross-border gambling”, saying that it had caused a “large outflow of capital”, as well as “serious damage to national image and economic security”.
The report did not clarify the definition of “cross-border” gambling. A number of investment analysts has said that Macau – a semi-autonomous region of China and the only place within China to have legalised casinos – is usually not considered as a “cross-border” location.
In any case, there has been a number of reports recently indicating a ramping up of cross-boundary capital controls even between the mainland and Macau, with commentators saying this might have limited the scope for Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue recovery as China emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said in a Tuesday note following the report, that if enacted, China’s legal change might further cloud the business outlook for junket promoters, that traditionally act as go-betweens to enable rich mainland residents to gamble in Macau and elsewhere.