Macau Legislators Overwhelmingly Support New Gambling Laws

Posted on: January 24, 2022, 11:15h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2022, 01:21h.

Legislators in Macau have had their first official review of the city’s new gambling laws. The results are in line with expectations, with almost 100% support appearing.

Macau Legislative Assembly
The Macau Legislative Assembly in session. The lawmakers spent a few hours Monday reviewing a draft to update the city’s gambling laws. (Image: Daily Advent)

Macau’s Legislative Assembly spent more than two hours discussing the new gambling laws.

When they were done scrutinizing the draft measures, the outcome was clear: 30 Assembly members voted for the new laws. Only one was against them.

Concerns Still Remain Over New Gaming Regime

Despite the overwhelming support, there are still questions to address. Some of the lawmakers raised concerns over how satellite casinos will work going forward. They will have to be more closely aligned to existing casino licensees, which could cause some of them to fail. If so, asserted the lawmakers, this could impact employment.

Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s secretary for economy and finance, believes the satellites are safe, stating that the laws aren’t written to kill the gaming industry. However, because of how the concessions are designed to work, only licensed properties are able to offer gaming. This means that gaming should only take place in venues they directly own.

Lei also reiterated his position that it is still possible that the laws may not be fully approved before the concessions expire in June. If this happens, he confirmed that extensions to the concessions will be given.

The next step is for the bill to go before one of three Assembly committees for further review. That committee may or may not make any changes. Either way, with or without modifications, the bill will return to the Assembly for its second pass. If it is approved, the new laws will be ready to take effect.

Macau Gaming Takes a Hit

Gaming revenues in Macau fell by 53% in the last week. This was due to tightened border controls in Zhuhai, resulting from a new COVID-19 epidemic in the mainland city.

According to the Bernstein brokerage, conducting its weekly review of Macau, gross gaming revenue (GGR) last week dropped to MOP$114 million (US$14.2 million) from the previous week. This, the analysts explained, was due to China’s tightened border controls over COVID-19 and an increase in area travel advisories.

The Zhuhai epidemic has subsided and no new cases were reported Sunday. However, an increase in the number of cases in Hong Kong could impact plans to reopen borders between Hong Kong and Macau.

Month-to-date, Macau GGR is at MOP$4.9 billion (US$612 million), according to the running totals. The average daily rate is MOP$213 million (US$27 million). This represents a 17% decrease versus December 2021, as well as a 74% drop compared to January 2019.

After the collapse of Macau’s junket industry, VIP has fallen more than 50% against December. Mass GGR has dropped around 10% month-on-month.

Bernstein predicts that January GGR will be around 28% lower than the December 2021 figure. It also expects the amount to be 77% less than January 2019. Typically, GGR figures are compared to 2019, since 2020 numbers were skewed due to the pandemic.