Macau Chief Executive Chui Says Casino Licenses Won’t Be Extended, Renewal Process to Begin in 2022

Posted on: April 20, 2019, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: April 19, 2019, 08:10h.

Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui expects the public tender process for casino concessions to coincide with the scheduled 2022 expirations of the six current gaming operator licenses.

Macau casinos Fernando Chui
Fernando Chui, the leading government official in Macau, says the casino tender process will begin concurrently with license expirations in 2022. (Image: Asia Gaming Brief)

Speaking before the enclave’s Legislative Assembly this week, Chui explained that postponing the expirations of SJM Holdings and MGM China to 2022 to fall in line with the four other casino operators will provide ample time for local politicians and gaming regulators to ready the public tender renewal.

I think that the Macau government has now sufficient conditions to launch a public tender, and that involves some internal work and amendments to existing legislation,” Chui said Thursday, as reported by GGRAsia. “We have sufficient time to make amendments to legislation and time to prepare the tender.”

Along with SJM and MGM, Macau’s six licensed gaming companies are Sands, Wynn, Melco, and Galaxy Entertainment.

Let Games Begin

The global gaming industry is fixated on Japan and its forthcoming commercial casinos. But only three integrated resorts will be authorized, meaning the majority of those interested parties won’t win licensure. Sands and MGM are considered the frontrunners.

While all of Macau’s licensed casino operators are expected to make bids for the Japanese IRs, they are more chiefly concerned with retaining their licenses in the Chinese enclave where they have already invested tens of billions of dollars. Analysts believe all six will be granted new concessions.

Chui has said in the past that all aspects of the gaming industry are under review. Few details have been leaked, but one rumored development is that satellite casinos littered throughout the enclave could be in jeopardy. In the Special Administrative Region’s current arrangement, hotels and clubs can incorporate small casinos after partnering with one of the six licensees and obtaining approval from the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

Such satellites could be eliminated in the next legal arrangement. However, there’s also a chance Macau will offer up a limited number of satellite permits in 2022.

Macau Future

Macau government officials are committed to creating a tourism destination less dependent on gaming.

Mass market tourism is growing in response to the People’s Republic of China’s crackdown in recent years on VIP high roller junket touring groups that bring the mainland’s wealthiest citizens to the gambling hub. As a result, the multibillion-dollar casino resorts have diversified to offer more non-gaming attractions.

The 2018 opening of the Hong Kong to Macau bridge is helping further drive increased general public tourism. The enclave reported a record 35.8 million out-of-town visitors last year. Macau wants even more.

Macau Liaison Office Director Fu Ziying – who represents Macau in Beijing – and the International Monetary Fund in its annual economic review, both argue that the enclave should continue its focus non-gaming tourism.

Hengqin Island, located just west of Macau across the six-lane Lotus Bridge, has about three times the land area of its neighboring casino hub. Gambling isn’t permitted on Hengqin, but that isn’t stopping casinos from exploring investment developments that could offer more MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, and exhibitions) space, hotel rooms, and entertainment attractions.

Las Vegas Sands explored a $2 billion investment on Hengqin in 2005, but the project was blocked by the Chinese federal government. Now with the mainland’s support, and casinos are again considering the island for non-gaming expansion.