Macau Lawmakers Request Review of Casinos Ahead of 2022 Relicensing

Posted on: May 17, 2021, 11:17h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 01:17h.

Legislators in Macau are requesting that the enclave’s gaming regulatory agency perform and make public a review of the enclave’s six commercial casino operators before the 2022 tender renewal process initiates. 

Macau casinos China law regulation
A group of men cross the street in a section of the glitzy Cotai Strip in Macau. Regulations governing the world’s largest casino market are set to change in the coming years. (Image: Getty)

Led by Macau Legislative Assemblywoman Ella Lei Cheng I, a group of legislators in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR) say the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) should produce a detailed evaluation. The review would cover how the six casino giants have adhered to the region’s gaming laws during their concession tenures. 

“We thought that the government could release an assessment on how the gaming companies have exercised their contracts for the past 20 years so that the public could have a better grasp of information before the consultation takes place,” Lei said, as relayed by GGRAsia.

Macau is set to hold a public consultation period regarding revisions of the enclave’s gaming laws later this year. The six casino licenses held by Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and SJM Holdings are set to expire in June of 2022. 

More Info Needed

Macau has for years been promising to update its commercial gaming regulations. 

In 2017, Fernando Chui, then Macau’s chief executive, said the goal is to “perfect the laws and regulations governing the gaming industry.” His successor, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, has since explained that part of the update will be focused on better financial scrutiny of the multibillion-dollar integrated resorts and the tens of billions of dollars of gaming revenue that flow through their properties each year.

Aside from the public comments from the chief executives, however, there’s been little concrete information made public out of the Macau government. 

We would like to hear the government’s views and what arrangements they intend for the [gaming] concessions,” Lei explained last fall. Along with serving in the Macau Legislative Assembly, Lei is a member of the Macau Federation of Trade Unions, a labor group that represents employees in numerous industries, including gaming.

Lei said this week that Macau’s chief leaders need to be more transparent. She cites a tight timetable to begin the public consultation period in the second half of this year, pass new gaming laws, and issue fresh gaming permits, all in time for the June 2022 expiration. 

Extension Possible

COVID-19 could result in the Macau government executing a one-time extension of the gaming privileges included in the 2002 gaming law. 

The statute created five new casino rights, each running for 20 years. The five new operators joined SJM, which held a monopoly on casino gaming in Macau for nearly four decades.

The one-time extension can be used to allow the permits to continue running for up to five years. The extension can only be initiated “under a justified decision of the Macau chief executive.”

In December, several gaming analysts, including those at Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Capital, said the odds are strong that an extension will occur.

“With Macau officials focused on the pandemic and economic recovery, odds are increasing that current gaming licenses are extended beyond 2022,” a Macquarie note predicted.