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No Illegal Online Gambling Promoters at 20,000-Strong Trade Show, Says Macau Gaming Regulator

The Macao Gaming Show (MGS) 2019 expo at the Venetian Macao pulled in almost 20,000 visitors last week, according to organizers.

The Macao Gaming Show 2019 was well-attended – at least by gaming regulators and the Judiciary Police, who detected no – or at least not many – online gaming operators. (Image: Bloomberg)

This may not conform with the experience of some attendees, who told GGRAsia they had witnessed “low levels of foot traffic to the event and modest numbers of qualified buyers.” But whatever the true count, at least none among their number were rogue online gambling operators.

That’s according to the Macau gaming regulator, DICJ, which has taken to patrolling gaming trade shows in the casino capital of the world to root out bad apples showcasing products that contravene local laws, such as those promoting online and crypto gaming.

In a press release on Friday, DICJ said it had carried out “joint supervisory actions” with the enclave’s Judiciary Police to “prevent exhibitors from spreading illicit online gambling activities.”

iGaming on the List

According to the promoter’s website, MGS was all about showcasing everything from “casino operations, entertainment … food and beverage, gaming equipment and accessories,” to “leisure, hospitality, and operations, promotional services, style and fashion, tourism and culture, and much more.”

Also included in the list was “i-gaming,”

Nevertheless, “no suspected cases of crime were detected,” the regulator confirmed.

OK, well, maybe a few.

Regarding irregularities individually committed by some exhibitors, DICJ requested their correction on the spot,”said the regulator. “DICJ also distributed to the exhibitors information leaflets on the fight against illicit internet gambling, in order to clarify the legal provisions in force in the Macau Special Administrative Region.”

G2E Asia Controversy

This has all become necessary since this year’s G2E Asia expo – held in May, also at the Venetian Macao – was found to be rife with rogue operators.

DICJ chief Paulo Martins Chan was forced to withdraw from participating in G2E Asia – he was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech – after he realized he would be investigating it instead.

Macau does not license online gaming and is eager to please the politburo in Beijing. China has stepped up its fight against illegal operators in recent years, many of which are based in the Philippines and targeting mainland China, where all forms of gambling are illegal, apart from state-owned lotteries.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency is not currently regulated in Macau, nor is it authorized for gaming activities, which meant eyebrows were raised at one of G2E Asia’s sponsors last May, Hong Kong-based blockchain company Blockchain Labs.

Blockchain Labs had organized a segment of the show aimed at “financial professionals from casinos and gaming platforms with new blockchain, cloud, cybersecurity, and payment technology solutions.”

And while blockchain and cryptocurrency are not necessarily the same thing, the association was close enough to get DICJ’s pulses racing.

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