The administration of outgoing Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah appears to be making a final push to act on previous pledges to rein in development in the world's largest casino market. Following a meeting with representatives from Macau's six licensed casino operators, Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak-yuen said on Monday that the government was planning to review the number of gaming tables in operation. It also planned to raise the age limit for players and dealers to 21 from 18 and relocate slot machine parlours away from residential areas. Shares in Macau casino operators plunged briefly yesterday following an article in the Wall Street Journal Asia citing Tam's comments. However, all these measures had been previously announced. Following his policy address in November 2007, Ho said the government would raise the casino entry age for staff and customers to 21. That same month, Tam first announced plans to relocate slot machine halls away from residential areas. Likewise, in April 2008, Ho announced the government's plans to rein in development of the casino industry. He said it would seek to limit the number of gaming tables and slot machines in operation, impose caps on VIP junket commissions and stop approving new casinos. Projects already in discussion or under construction were not affected. 'These measures are nothing new and have been on the agenda for some time,' said Larry So Man-yum, associate professor of public administration at Macau Polytechnic Institute, yesterday. Still, the timing of Tam's announcement on Monday raised some eyebrows. Tam will step down along with the rest of the current administration on December 20 in favour of a new government to be appointed by incoming chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-on. Ho has headed the government in the city since Portugal returned it to China in 1999. Many of the restrictions on casino development announced by Ho's administration in recent years have struggled on the path to implementation. Junket commission caps were only formally implemented at the beginning of this month, 18 months after they were first announced, and details of how they will be enforced remain unclear. The number of tables and slot machines in operation had been declining since the second quarter of last year, when restrictions were first announced, but have since risen again with new casino openings. Observers said the outgoing regime's renewed interest in gaming industry restrictions appeared to be in response to prodding from Beijing. With two months left in office, there is little time for the administration to table measures before a new legislature, which is set to convene for the first time this Friday following last month's elections. 'It's a message from the central government that the Macau government should do something before they step down to hold casino development at bay to a certain extent,' said So. Casino developer Steve Wynn, who last week raised HK$14.49 billion in a Hong Kong listing of his Macau business, told Bloomberg yesterday that the measures were 'good ideas' that would not affect Wynn Macau.