Macau officials advise enhanced enforcement on illegal use of ATMs
June 08, 2018 9:18 AM
by Robert Mann
Macau government officials have advised financial institutions to step up enforcement on the illegal use of UnionPay Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) cards to evade exchange controls. It’s the latest move by China to try and halt the illegal movement of money out of the country.
Macau is the world’s largest gambling location with a major presence by Las Vegas-based companies Las Vegas Sands, MGM International and Wynn Resorts. Macau's gambling industry has revenues of about $3 billion a month.
The monetary authority’s warning to banks came after Macau pawn shops had their UnionPay point-of-sale terminals removed, according to state broadcaster TDM.
A 2014 Reuters investigation found that many mainland Chinese used UnionPay cards to circumvent cash withdrawal limits of 20,000 yuan ($3,200) a day, and either use that money to gamble or transfer it abroad.
Previously, a Macau customer could visit one of nearly 200 pawn shops inside casinos or on the streets that sell watches or jewelry, and swipe their card to get cash without buying anything, avoiding capital controls.
The UnionPay ATM network extends to many countries and regions frequently visited by the Chinese, including Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Singapore and others.