Calls for iGaming as An Economic Solution Emerge in Struggling Macau

Published October 15, 2020 by Lee R

Calls for iGaming as An Economic Solution Emerge in Struggling Macau

A senior official in Macau believes that iGaming will provide some added revenue in Macau.

A 15-year regional official believes that iGaming may be the solution to Macau's entire economic malaise.

Legalize iGaming?

Macau Legislative Assembly member Jose Maria Pereira Coutinho calls legalization of some forms of iGaming to facilitate economic recovery from the pandemic.

The Benefits of iGaming

Coutinho, who has served on the former Portuguese enclave's legislative assembly since 2005, expressed his belief to Inside Asian Gaming that legalizing online gaming would not just bring in added revenue per se, but empower local businesses to diversify.

Covid Destroyed Revenues

As the only region in China that permits gambling, Macau has emerged as a gambling mecca; but that all changed when Covid hit, and the economy was virtually shut down due to the dearth of non-gaming enterprises in the hub.

The Land-Based Factor

Macau's legendary private operators including SJM Holdings' Casino Grand Lisboa were paying gross gaming revenue of roughly 39%. The GGR tax provided some 90% of the city’s total income through 2019, until five consecutive months of coronavirus-induced losses in 2020 that dropped aggregated earnings a stultifying 90% year-on-year.

Yet virtually all of this highs and recent lows have been categorically accomplished in Macau through land-based gaming activity.

Minimal iGaming Permits

With the exception of a severely limited amount of soccer and basketball-themed sports betting games operated by Macau Slot Company Limited, iGaming is prohibited in Macau.

Expansion Plan Suggested

With the coronavirus-induced drop-off in gaming taxes already feeding rumours of an impending inaugural lottery launch along the lines of the Mark Six service being offered to punters in nearby Hong Kong, Coutinho calls for more expansion of offerings through iGaming.

Coutinho called for interactive gaming in Macau, and further called on the Macau government to establish “official standards and regulations on interactive gaming” while developing “interactive gaming software” as measures to “increase revenues from gaming tax and further develop gaming industries in Macau.”


Coutinho's suggestions come four months after Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regulator declared it's willingness to listen to any suggestions for developing the industry: an effective plan positioning iGaming technology to add revenue to the struggling economy looks likely to pass the Bureau's scrutiny as Macau continues to search for economic answers.

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