Manuel Neves, director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), predicts that the local gaming and betting sector’s annual gross receipts will “very probably” reach 100 billion patacas at the end of the decade, when he expects the number of casinos to reach 34 or 35. Mr. Neves made the forecast in an interview with the latest edition of the Portuguese-language Revista , a quarterly magazine published by Delta Edicoes on behalf of the Government Information Bureau (GCS).

According to the DICJ, the gaming and betting sector’s gross receipts reached a record HK$ 55.88 billion at the end of last year (the DICJ uses a Hong Kong dollar/pataca exchange rate of 1:1 in spite of the fact that the official peg rate stands at 1:1.03). The number of casinos now amounts to 26.

Mr. Neves also said he expected this year’s gaming and betting sector to log 77 billion patacas in gross receipts this year. This would amount to a year-on-year growth of 37.7 per cent per cent. He also said he believed the number of gaming workers would increase from the present 35,000 to between 60,000 and 80,000 “in the medium term.”

Macau’s top gaming inspector also said the government would not grant more casino subconcessions. Currently, the three casino concessionaires have been allowed by the government to grant one subconcession each.

“I believe that will, in fact, be the Las Vegas of the Orient,” Mr. Neves told the magazine, adding he did not believe that new casino developments elsewhere in Asia, such as in Singapore, would jeopardize ’s leading position in the region “in the short or medium term.”

Mr. Neves also said that the present situation of gambling-related problems in was “not worrying.” However, he added that this did not mean that problems could arise in the future, because of which the government was taking “preventive measures to minimize this possibility.”

The bureau director also said the government would soon draft “clear rules” on the prohibition of minors’ entry into casinos. While anyone under the age of 18 is currently banned from entering gaming premises, current legislation apparently gives minors the right to claims their winnings even if they illegally gained entry into a casino. Neves claimed that casinos “are not the best place to launder money, contrary to what many people think. In casinos everything is registered and, consequently, it’s easier to detect illegal operations.”

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