The "Bate-Ficha" Business and Triads in Macau Casinos
AbstractThis paper focuses on explaining the unique 'bate-ficha' business, which is based on non-transferable gaming chips, as practiced only in Macau casinos. However, this concept of 'bate-ficha' lies in a gray area in the laws of Macau. Even though the practice is monitored by the Macau police and often appears in the news, there is no formal regulation governing its operation. Changes in casino management combined with cronyism are the main reasons for the evolution of the 'bate-ficha' business. The nature of 'bate-ficha' business appears to be highly vulnerable to triad involvement. Weak law enforcement and corruption amplify this problem. The functions of triads and the role of violence in the casinos, especially in the 'bate-ficha' business, are also described. A modified version of Gambetta's economic theory of private protection is utilized to explain the related issues of triad involvement and loan sharking in the 'bate-ficha' business. This is the first systematic research on the 'bate-ficha' business in Macau and is mainly based on in-depth interviews, observations and secondary resources.
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