European Union sets new rules on casino betting

A normative rule published in the Official Journal of the European Union establishes new rules for the gaming industry across the EU.

A normative rule published in the Official Journal of the European Union establishes new rules for the gaming industry across the EU.

The directive seeks to address “the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing.” It amends a previous regulation of the European Parliament from 2012, in addition to various other directives from the EU Council and European Parliament, which date from 2005 and 2006. These measures force Casinos to identify the players that bet or win equal to or more than EUR2,000 (a little over MOP17,400).

According to the document, “flows of illicit money can damage the integrity, stability and reputation of the financial sector, and threaten the internal market of the Union as well as international development.” The money from such activities can easily flow to the funding of terrorism and organized crime.

All the member states must ratify this directive into their own legal systems by 2017.

On a related concern, the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Noticias (DN) published an editorial yesterday that expressed concerns that the country could be “in risk of financing terrorism” through casinos. The same source cited a Portuguese government evaluation report named “National Assessment of Money Laundering Risk and Terrorist Financing,” which identifies “casinos, lawyer firms, notaries, real estate companies, offshores and free commerce zones” as “easy targets for money laundering.”

Three of Portugal’s most prominent casinos (Casino Estoril, Casino Lisboa and Casino da Póvoa de Varzim) are managed by Estoril-Sol, a company chaired by Macau’s gaming tycoon, Stanley Ho. His daughter, Pansy Ho, serves as chairman of the executive committee of Estoril-Sol.

The Portuguese casino business declined by 2 percent year-on-year in 2014. Pressure for the gaming sector to report illegal gambling, online gambling, and the country’s financial crisis, have been the primary reasons attributed to this decline. Mário Assis Ferreira, vice-chairman of the board of Estoril-Sol, previously told the Times that “Portuguese casinos finance 62 percent of the national tourism industry.”

In Macau, as of June 2015, Macau authorities had registered 910 cases of transactions suspected of being related to money laundering and financing terrorism.
In the territory, the casino industry is only required to report to the authorities any transaction equal to or more than MOP500,000. This requirement has led the US Department of State to push for law enforcement on this matter on several occasions, going so far as to suggest that the upper limit for this law should be set to USD3,000 (around MOP24,000) in order to comply with international standards.

The local government stated in the 2016 Policy Address that it has plans to review the Law for Prevention and Suppression of the Crime of Money Laundering, although no concrete proposals have been brought forth as of yet.

Source: Macau Daily Times


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