No more casino attack drills planned for now in Macau: DICJ

Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – a body also known as DICJ – says it has no plans to conduct further simulation drills “in the coming months” involving ‘attacks’ to the city’s large-scale casino resorts.

In January, emergency and other Macau government workers joined a simulation drill overnight at the Galaxy Macau casino resort operated by Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. The government said at the time the drill had been designed to test the ability of public-sector departments and the local casino industry to coordinate and handle a response to major incidents. It added it was satisfied with the outcome.

“In view of the current security situation, the DICJ has no plan to conduct another casino emergency drill in the coming few months with scale similar to the one that took place in Galaxy Macau,” the gaming regulator told GGRAsia earlier this month.

“Nevertheless, the DICJ will continue paying close attention to the security of the casinos and should there be any need for another joint simulation drill… the DICJ will actively participate in it and provide the necessary coordination and support,” the regulator added.

The January exercise simulated an armed robbery in a public area, with four ‘criminals’ attacking a ‘passer-by’ before escaping into a crowded hotel lobby. Scenes of multiple injuries, a bomb threat, people being held hostage and standoffs between the police and the ‘criminals’ were involved.

During the drill, the gaming bureau tested a “Major Incidents Emergency Communication Mechanism”, which was established last year following a deadly attack in June 2017 at the Resorts World Manila casino complex in the Philippine capital.

Macau’s Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak mentioned in a February press briefing that the January simulation drill exercise had “achieved the anticipated results”, and further similar exercises would be organised in the future.

The government had signalled plans for such a drill system already in October 2017, At the time, it referred to a “gunman attack and arson” that took place in a “neighbouring country” – understood to be a reference to the lone-gunman attack on Resorts World Manila – and also to the shootings on the Las Vegas Strip in the United States in October. The events claimed in aggregate more than 94 lives, and in the short term caused some damage to the image of those local casino industries, industry commentators said.

The 2018 Asia Risk Assessment from Steve Vickers and Associates Ltd, a specialist risk mitigation, corporate intelligence and risk consulting company based in Hong Kong, said that the Macau casino industry remained “vulnerable to terrorist attack despite recent efforts to improve readiness.”