Macau Hoping to Legalize Cryptocurrencies Following China Trial

Macau officials are planning to amend their financial laws to allow for cryptocurrencies, a move that could open up a whole new market for the poker players and gamblers who flock to the former Portuguese colony.

By: Andrew Burnett

With mainland China supplying most of these customers, the plans could see instant transactions for players at the casino, or even the table, in the future. At present, players have to convert their Chinese RMB currency into HK$ or Macau Patacas, known as MOPs.

With mainland Chinese seriously affected by limits on how much they can spend in Macau (hence junkets where players are offered ‘loans’, and often Triad involvement to enforce their repayment) the recent trials of a digital Yuan in China has sparked hopes of an alternative method of payment.

If the RMB were to become legal tender in Macau, then the path is opened to usage of Digital RMB as well,Brokerage Bernstein stated recently.
They added: ““In the context of casinos, this would mean for example being able to buy chips for play directly from the casino cage (or even a table) instantly using (digital) RMB without the need to convert into HKD.”

Although the Chinese government controls the digital version of the Yuan very closely, allowing “greater government scrutiny and control over money flows”, Bernstein says that “Mass and premium mass play could surely benefit due to ease of money flow.”

It would also allow easier money transfer [and] eliminate the need to use intermediaries (like junkets, underground banks or pawnshops)", they concluded.

Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng recently stated: “We should follow the pace of the mainland government... and start a feasibility study around launching the Digital RMB in Macau. Therefore, we need to add provisions in relevant law to allow for the introduction of digital currencies.”

It’s still a long way off seeing the currently banned cryptocurrencies being legalised in China or Macau, but it may be the first small step towards a truly international approach to crypto.


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