Gamblers use tech to overcome phone ban: Bloomberg

    Out of country “proxy” gamblers are already employing a workaround to navigate the phone ban that has been imposed on Macau’s VIP rooms, Bloomberg reports.

    Phone betting is the practice of an agent (junket) or third party placing a live wager in a VIP room on behalf of a client making a bet over a mobile device/phone. In many instances the player will watch the results streaming live.

    The phone ban enforced from May 9, does not specifically ban proxy betting, but rather bans the use of mobile phones at any gaming table in Macau.

    In a previous note from Sterne Agee, phone betting is estimated to account for 5-10 percent of VIP revenue.

    According to Bloomberg, “at least three gaming promoters who conduct business at independently run VIP rooms at Macau casinos operated by SJM Holdings Ltd. and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. said they were using headsets to evade the ban, with the proxy players sometimes using their hair to hide the devices.”

    On Tuesday, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong pledged that the government will work to “ensure strict enforcement” of the ban.

    “The government’s position on the ban on phone betting in casinos is unequivocal,” according to a statement by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau in response to Bloomberg News. “If irregularities that contravene the laws of Macau are found, the government will take severe measures against such activities.”

    According to the statement, casinos operators and gaming promoters are fully aware of the ban on the use of mobile telephones at gaming tables, and the bureau is “also exploring possible legislative amendments to promote the industry’s healthy development by raising the thresholds for gambling promoters,” it said in the statement.

    At this moment, it is still unclear how the new ban will work or how it will be enforced.