The city of Macau, a special administrative region of China and home to a thriving casino industry, is seeking to grant digital currency status as legal tender, the Executive Council of Macau announced on Friday.

See related article: Macao needs China’s heft in tech to introduce CBDC, official says 

Fast facts

  • While the proposal does not name any specific digital currencies, it comes amid China’s ambitious rollout of its central bank digital currency (CBDC), the digital yuan or e-CNY, and could potentially strengthen the city’s economic and legal ties with the mainland.
  • Meanwhile, gaming industry insiders are abuzz over whether the legislation would allow the use of digital currencies in the city’s vibrant casino scene.
  • The bill, titled “Legal regime for the creation and issuance of currency,” also proposes to penalize refusal to accept legal tender as an administrative offense, with fines to offenders between 1,000 MOP (US$123.70) and 10,000 MOP (US$1,237).
  • Macau is looking to China’s expertise in developing its digital yuan to possibly introduce its own CBDC, in an effort to build up the CBDC system “relying on national technical strength,” said the secretary for economy and finance, Lei Wai Nong, in June.
  • Macau, dubbed by some as the “gambling capital of the world” and “Monte Carlo of the East,” is home to the world’s largest casino industry, contributing over a half of the city’s GDP at about US$28.1 billion in 2019.

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