Macau’s gambling industry is reeling amid rumors that the city’s regulator is in talks with casino operators regarding the introduction of China’s digital yuan.
China’s central bank digital currency is expected to further exacerbate Macau’s declining gambling revenues.
According to a Dec. 2 article from Bloomberg, junkets — Macau businesses that act as middlemen to facilitate visits by China’s high-roller gamblers — claim their clients are looking to other jurisdictions due to concerns the digital yuan will be introduced to Macau’s embattled gambling sector.
The report cites anonymous sources who claim local casino operators have been approached by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau to discuss the viability of denominating casino chip purchases in digital yuan rather than Hong Kong dollars, as is presently the case.
The sources noted that popular digital payment platforms such as AliPay and WeChat are not being considered for use in Macau’s casinos, as they will not assist the central government in tracking capital flows.
However, a Dec. 2 statement from Macau’s Government Information Bureau asserts that the rumored discussions concerning “the use of digitized RMB in gaming casinos […] is false.”
Regardless, the rumors have sent shockwaves through the territory’s gambling industry, with shares in casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group and Macau’s largest junket operator Suncity Group Holdings each falling by roughly 3% on the same day.
The introduction of the digital yuan into Macau’s casinos would threaten the junkets industry, which garners significant revenue from providing Hong Kong dollar conversion and credit services. With Macau’s revenue falling by $27 billion amid the pandemic, junkets are already feeling the pain.