Macau Chief Executive Committed to Improving Financial Reporting Standards for Casinos

Posted on: November 16, 2020, 09:34h. 

Last updated on: November 16, 2020, 12:17h.

Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng says a pillar of the next chapter of the enclave’s laws governing the gaming industry will be much stricter financial reporting protocols involving large movements of capital.

Macau casinos gaming industry
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng says changes are coming to the area’s gaming industry. (Image: South China Morning Post)

During Ho’s Policy Address today at the Legislative Assembly, the chief executive outlined the timeline for the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) to revise its gaming law. That will include the retender process for the six licensed commercial casino operators.

[The government should] improve the legal framework for the gaming industry,” Ho declared, as first reported by GGRAsia.

Macau’s six gaming concession holders will each see their gaming permits expire in June of 2022. These include Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and SJM Holdings.

All six are expected to receive fresh casino concessions, including the three US-based companies. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump is anticipated to ease the renewals for Sands, MGM, and Wynn, as the Democratic incomer is expected to take a softer approach in US-China relations.

Ho told lawmakers that revisions to the gaming law should be completed by the fourth quarter of 2021. There is also to be a public comment period where residents can submit their own law recommendations.   

China’s Gambling Crackdown 

China President Xi Jinping has recently devoted much time to developing better safeguards to stop Chinese citizens from moving their money outside of the People’s Republic for gambling activities.

Lawmakers in Beijing are expected to pass an amendment in early 2021 to the country’s Criminal Law that will impose lengthy prison sentences for anyone found guilty of marketing gambling services in the mainland. The most serious offenders will receive prison terms of up to 10 years.

China’s Ministry of Public Security estimates that $150 billion moved out from underneath the oversight of the People’s Republic last year. The law enforcement agency says it has arrested more than 60,000 people involved in aiding Chinese people to gamble overseas.

China’s crackdown on cross-border gambling isn’t thought to involve Macau. But Ho’s public declaration to better scrutinize large transactions facilitated through casinos will only further improve its relationship with the mainland.

Macau and Hong Kong are the two autonomous SARs in China. Hong Kong fell out of favor last year with Xi’s administration after Hong Kongers protested a bill that would have allowed the People’s Republic to extradite people from Hong Kong to mainland China and Taiwan.

Macau Too Reliant on Casinos

Macau leaders have come to recognize that the enclave’s economy is far too heavily reliant on its casinos. The gaming industry is the region’s largest employer and generates almost 90 percent of the local government’s tax income.

Ho says there’s an “urgent need” to diversify economically. One way Macau plans to accomplish that is through the creation of its own yuan-denominated stock market. That would likely result in various businesses establishing a presence in the enclave.

“The creation of a local stock exchange is an almost necessary condition for the development of a large and efficient financial infrastructure and the fostering of economic diversification,” wrote recently attorneys Jose Leitao and Paulo Camara in a Macau Business op-ed.