Macau, crime and the casino state
Abstract of thesis entitled
Macau, Crime and the Casino State
Veng Mei LEONG
for the degree of Master of Philosophy
at the University of Hong Kong
in May 2001
Under Portuguese rule, gaming businesses have been legalized in Macau since 1847 and this small former Asian overseas province of Portugal has become known worldwide as the "Monte Carlo of the Orient". Macau like Nevada has, "... built government around the gaming industry" (Zendzian 1993: 13). Since 1988 more than 30% of government tax revenue is collected from the monopoly operator of the casinos, Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), so that Macau may be said to be a "Casino State". This paper focuses on both the macro and the micro-aspects of gambling and crime. At the macro level, the formal legislation governing the gambling industry is analyzed and compared with practice in Macau casinos. Here the focus is upon who defines the law in Macau and in whose interest does the law serve. Through an examination of the role of government and legislation in regulating the gambling industry, the question of whether the state is regulatory or permissive is discussed. The laws on gambling appear to create or leave loopholes for Hong Kong and Macau triad involvement in the casinos, especially through the "bate-ficha" business which is based on the widespread use of non-transferable gambling chips. Although the concept of "bate-ficha" does not exist in the laws of
Macau, the practice is monitored by police. It is hypothesized that changes in casino management combined with "cronyism" are the main reasons for the evolution of the "bate-ficha" business. In this context the potential for capture and corruption of the regulators by elements of the gambling industry are also assessed. The function of triads and the role of violence in the casinos, especially in the "bate-ficha" business, are described.
The complex relationship between the government, the STDM and the triads is undergoing rapid change in response to the changes in administration and jurisdiction. Due to the expiration of the STDM's exclusive franchise in 2001, the demand for more effective economic, legislative and regulative approaches in managing the gambling industry has begun to force changes in casino operations. Critical theories are applied to explain the relationship between the government, the gambling industry and the triads, so that law makers and law enforcers can have some appreciation of the implications to better regulate the gambling industry and to reassert public interest after the handover.
School:The University of Hong Kong
School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:gambling government policy china macau special administrative region law and legislation crime
Date of Publication:01/01/2001