Visiting Macau? Prepare to declare the currency you’re carrying

  • Legislators to introduce a new bill that will crack down on money laundering
  • Bill states that anyone entering Macau with more than $15,000 must declare it

Macau legislators have just applied the finishing touches to a bill that would oblige visitors to declare how much currency they’re bringing into the territory. The aim of the bill is to crack down on money laundering, though its passage will affect all visitors planning to enter the Chinese gambling haven.

macau money visit declare
Anything to declare? Visitors to Macau will soon have to declare if they are carrying money worth over $15,000

With all 33 members of Macau’s legislative assembly having passed the bill, it’s now legally binding. As a consequence, anyone entering the country with more than MOP 120,000 ($15,000) in currency or travellers cheques will be obliged to declare it.

That’s likely to include a large proportion of the visitors to Macau, which is popular with China’s high rollers, who are otherwise obliged to visit South Korea, the Philippines or Australia to gamble.

Travellers to experience added scrutiny

Due to the high amounts of cash that tend to be swilling around in casinos, they’re a magnet for individuals whose wealth has been amassed by dubious means. In China, a nation which has its share of problems with organised crime, Macau is a natural target for money laundering. With the new laws in place, monied travellers – even those whose money is squeaky clean – can expect added scrutiny.

The new law doesn’t come into effect until November 2017, so players have at least got a few months in which they can still carry large sums of cash without being obliged to declare it. Macau legislators have tried to strike a balance between cracking down on money laundering whilst trying not to deter the VIP high rollers who keep its casino economy afloat.

Macau is also introducing ATM machines with facial recognition in an attempt to put an end to proxy betting. In other words, gamblers seeking to circumvent the restriction on carrying large sums of money into the city undeclared will need to withdraw cash in their own name.

Macau has six integrated resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn, MGM, Melco, SJM and Galaxy, who aren’t believed to be concerned by the new anti-corruption legislation. Provided the VIPs keep coming and business remains booming, it’s highly unlikely they’ll kick up a fuss.

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