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Macau's security chief appointed to gaming commission

[HONG KONG] Macau's top official in charge of security in the world's largest casino hub has been appointed a member of the local gaming commission as authorities further strengthen supervision and control in the southern Chinese territory.

Wong Sio Chak, Macau's secretary for security, was appointed to the commission in April, according to the official Macau gazette.

His appointment comes at a time when casino revenues have slumped to lows not seen in five years and casino operators are struggling to boost visits of big spenders in their resorts.

As casino revenues have spiralled for 22 months in a row, gaming-related crimes in Macau increased by 38 per cent in 2015 due to large increases in loansharking and false imprisonment.

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"It seems there is a connection with security problems,"said a spokesman for the security bureau. "He should be part of it. That is understandable." Macau created the gaming commission in 2000 as the former Portuguese colony opened up the gaming industry to foreign players including US billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

It revamped the committee in 2010 with a mandate to research, monitor and implement regulations for the industry.

There are currently eight officials on the commission's board, including the current head of the gaming body, Macau's chief executive and the secretary for economy and finance.

Prior to Mr Wong's appointment, a representative from the security body was a member of the committee.

Macau's government is currently undertaking a review of the gaming industry and has requested large swathes of information from the six licensed operators Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China and Melco Crown.

Lionel Leong, Macau's secretary for economy and finance, said the review, which focuses on the sector's and economic impact, would be submitted to Beijing before the end of this year according to local media.

The central government has been hardening calls for Macau to diversify, due to an acute reliance on the casino industry which contributes to over 80 per cent of government revenues.

Casino operators have responded by spending billions on large-scale projects with features such as a mock Eiffel Tower, adventure rides and entertainment venues.