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Macau Chief Executive Could Be Granted Powers to Close Casinos During Major Incidents

The government of Macau launched Thursday a public consultation on a draft legislation that, if approved, would allow the special administrative region’s Chief Executive to order the closure of border check points and casinos in the event of “unforeseen public incidents”.

The public consultation will take place over 45 days and at three special public sessions. The government of Macau thus aims to gather public input in relation to the implementation of measures that would make it possible for competent authorities and other parties to act accordingly in cases of natural disasters, terror attacks, and different other public security incidents. The piece of legislation would replace an existing public security decree from 1992. Macau was still under Portuguese administration at the time.

Under the bill, Macau’s Chief Executive will have their powers extended in a manner that would allow them to order suspension of casino operations when a public incident of any sort and of major scope hits the special administrative region, known to be the only Chinese territory where casino gambling is legal and the world’s largest casino gambling hub.

The draft legislation also proposes the the Chief Executive be granted authority to close border check points in the event of public incidents of different nature. Under the bill, only the city’s Chief Executive would be able to exercise their extended powers and no other officials would be able to be delegated any such authority.

Four Categories of Incidents

The bill classifies different public incidents that could hit Macau in four main categories, with those being natural disasters, public health incidents, public security incidents, and major accidents. While it is very clear what the first category includes, the second one includes food safety incidents and epidemic outbreaks, the third one involves terror attacks, and the final one includes nuclear or traffic accidents, among others.

Spreading rumors about public incidents would also be considered a crime under the legislative piece. Individuals found to be spreading rumors for such incidents would face up to three years in prison. The public consultation will continue through August 11 and, as mentioned above, will include three special public sessions.

The draft legislation was put forward for discussions after Typhoon Hato hit the Chinese coast last August. The powerful tropical storm claimed more than 10 lives in Macau and left half of the special administrative region without electricity and water. Macau estimated that it suffered nearly $1.5 billion in economic losses as a result from Hato.

The massive incident also forced the city’s casinos to close doors. Despite the closures, the total gaming revenue for August 2017 recorded a growth of more than 20% from a year earlier, according to figures released by the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

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