Macau’s casino industry may be booming, but the license that operators own that allow them to run casinos are up for renewal in the next few years.

Macau casinos Chan Meng Kam

Macau businessman Chan Meng Kam says that local firms should have an opportunity to bid on casino concessions alongside current operators. (Image: Hoje Macau)

And while it has generally been believed that most or all of these new concessions would go to existing operators, at least one business leader in the territory wants locals to be able to make their case for running casinos.

According to a report by GGRAsia.com, former legislator and current Macau businessman Chan Meng Kam made comments on Wednesday suggesting that he believed locals should have more input and influence in the process that would grant future gaming rights in the city.

“I know many people are paying attention to the gaming license issue,” Chan told reporters on Wednesday. “As someone from Macau, I hope that Macau people can be allowed to participate in it.”

Those comments naturally led to follow-up questions about whether Chan himself was interested in trying to acquire a license. However, he did not address those questions in any direct manner. The comments were made during the annual meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the top advisory group for the Chinese government.

A Prominent Man in Macau

Chan was a member of the Legislative Assembly in Macau from 2005 to 2017. Chan is known as being one of the richest men in all of Macau, and reportedly owns hundreds of real estate properties in the territory after making his fortune in the 1990s.

He is now the chairman of Golden Dragon Co Ltd., a firm that runs three casinos in Macau under the licenses of SJM Holdings and Melco Resorts and Entertainment.

These venues are known as satellite casinos, as they rely on service agreements with the actual gaming licenses of one of the six authorized operators in the city in order to legally offer real money gaming.

Operators Want More Info

Chan is far from the only person who wants more information on the future of the local gaming industry. In February, GGRAsia.com reported that SJM Holdings CEO Ambrose So Shu Fai said that he and the other operators who currently run casinos in the territory would like more transparency from local officials over what they expect from gaming companies ahead of the concession renewal period.

Macau’s government has resisted efforts to give out too much information at this time, saying they don’t want to tip their hand to other jurisdictions before they have to. However, there are questions over whether the same number of concessions will be awarded, or whether new operators will be allowed into the mix, something that would potentially give new local firms a chance to jump into the lucrative market.

That said, there is some question as to how many operators the market can handle. While Macau is certainly on a winning streak right now, growth seems to be slowing. In January, gross gaming revenue was up only 5.7 percent year-over-year, below the growth rate estimated by analysts and the smallest increase since January 2017.