China's central bank digital currency, the e-yuan, is causing anxiety among junket operators, who fear that the full digitalization of Macau's gaming sector could shut them down.
Junket operators are tourist companies that offer Chinese customers trips to Macau and the region's gambling destinations.
However, under intensified scrutiny from the mainland and new laws targeting such companies, they may feel discouraged for fear of legal repercussions from Beijing.
China is only interested in making sure that money by mainlanders is not sent to illegal businesses but in doing so it may overshoot and make legitimate businesses skittish to operate in the industry.
Industry insiders are afraid that Beijing may impose daily or annual transaction limits, effectively biting a substantial chunk out of the industry's competitiveness and revenue.
According to Luiz Lam, an investor in the junket industry, these measures could mean the end of junkets. “All these intermediary industries will be faded out or disappear right away and this is a very likely possible outcome”, he said.
Other industry stakeholders have commented that even if they are opposed to the implementation of a digital currency, if the order comes from Beijing there is nothing they can do about it other than comply.
“We just have to follow right, and as an operator make sure our systems will be compatible”, an anonymous source said cited by CoinTelegraph.
However not everyone is sharing in the gloom. Las Vegas Sands and Macau Sands China chairman Robert Goldstein has argued that the changes can have a positive impact on the industry, making Macau more consumer-friendly.