Phones to silent: Macau’s casino visitors given another warning over mobile phone use

  • Government warnings to players for phone use at tables have risen
  • Arrests have been made in April for proxy betting violations

Macau’s authorities are stepping up the pressure when tackling casino patrons who use mobile phones at the table. The stronger action comes one year after the ban on phones was introduced, in response to a recent rise in violations.

macau casino mobile phone ban
Despite a ban on the use of mobile phones at casino tables in 2016, casino patrons are still flouting the rules

Patrons who use phones during casino games or who bet via an agent (also called proxy betting) will be issued with a warning, and subsequent flaunting of the rules could result in police action.

Macau gets tough on phone use

Efforts to curb mobile use in casinos have been ongoing in Macau for several years, and the Sands China has made phone bans part of their company policy since 2014. The regional ban was made law in 2016 by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, as part of its efforts to control proxy betting along with any associated illegal activities.

While casinos have cooperated fully with the new law, it seems that not all gamblers have got the message. Since the ban came into effect, 71 warnings have been issued by authorities – and 49 of those verbal reminders were given during 2017.

Warnings target proxy betting agents

Officials have responded by taking tougher action against offenders. Seven people were arrested this month for operating an illegal proxy betting ring. Proxy betting has been popular in Macau until the ban, allowing VIP guests to call their bets to the table without being present at the casino.

This is why authorities sought to end the practice by banning mobile phones entirely: not only could it promote cheating, but it also enables this practice of anonymous betting to take place.

Not knowing who the bettor is puts the casino and the players at risk, and could promote illegal activity such as money laundering or fraud. By tackling offenders more harshly, Macau is sending the message to gamblers that mobile phone use will not be tolerated at the tables.


What’s the message here? Switch off your phones! Considering the Macau Government banned the practice last year you’d have thought that the country’s punters would know better, but it seems there are still some that wish to try their luck – as is often the case. It’s not just in Macau that you’ll find the ruling though, across casinos worldwide there’s a generally accepted practice that you don’t use your phones at the table, try and you’ll soon be relieved of your mobile in most places. The rule of thumb here is simple – and it’s worth bearing Macau in mind if you find yourself at a casino of your choice – check the rules and regs before you play. And if in doubt, don’t get your phone out.

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