Macau Still Silent on Concession Tenders in Latest Policy Address

Posted on: November 16, 2021, 01:14h. 

Last updated on: November 16, 2021, 02:28h.

Ho Iat Seng, Macau’s chief executive, was questioned by local media Tuesday about the possibility of refreshing the city’s six gaming concessions, as well as the time line to complete the review. Just as he has done on numerous occasions when the topic has been raised, Seng continued to be tight-lipped and non-committal.

Macau, Gaming, Ho Iat Seng, License
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng, seen in a public appearance while the city continues to determine the direction its gaming industry will head next year. (Image: Asia Times)

This is despite the fact that concessions are due to expire next June.

The Macau government had previously indicated that a new public tender process would be established in conjunction with the expiration of the existing casino licenses.

However, Macau’s gaming statute will have to be changed before such a process is possible. The government had previously stated its intention to complete this task before the end of the current quarter.

The comments were made following a policy address for the city outlining next year’s plans. Macau’s leader, when pressed about the concession renewals, only offered, “We are now compiling the opinions collected during the public consultation period” regarding the amendment of the gaming law. He added, “We need then to start the legislative process by submitting the bill to the Legislative Assembly.”

Future Gaming Laws Still Unclear

In the course of revising the gaming law, the Macau government held an open consultation to solicit opinions from operators, as well as the general public. The public consultation period lasted from September 15 to 29. However, two of the meetings were called off and no extension was permitted.

In Tuesday’s remarks to media, Ho stated that amendments to the gaming laws would be made in accordance with guidelines issued by the government back in September. The guidelines included nine key topics “that need attention.”

These subjects included the number of concessions needed, the term of any new concession period, new regulatory requirements that concessionaires should follow, the pre-vetting done by the government for operator shareholder dividends, and the introduction of government-appointed officials to monitor Macau operators.

On Tuesday, the chief executive did not provide a timetable for the city’s review of its gaming laws framework. He also did not say whether the revision would be completed prior to the expiry of the six gaming concessions in 2022.

“Once we complete the review of the gaming law, we will proceed with the [retender] process step by step. If the public tender cannot be done in time, there is an existing mechanism that allows for the extension,” Ho said.

Macau’s current gaming law, while it is awaiting a fresh tender, allows for an extension of existing licensures up to a maximum five-year limit from the original twenty-year term. Since late last year, many analysts have predicted that the extensions would be granted, as Macau has not completed its review of the new gaming laws.

Clarity Might Come Through MGS Summit

Discussions about proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming laws will be prominently discussed at this year’s MGS Macau Leisure Technology Summit. The summit will be held online this Wednesday.

The Summit is going to feature two sessions on gaming law revisions. Wang Changbin is the director and professor of Macao Polytechnic Institute’s Centre for Gaming and Tourism Studies, and will deliver a keynote address, “Into the New Era – Public Gaming Policy.”

Antonio Lobo Vilela, a Macau-based lawyer, will give another keynote speech, “Gaming Law & Casino Concessions in Macau.”

The topic will likely be raised during a panel discussion moderated by Professor Davis Fong that includes representatives from all six Macau operators.

The panel includes Sands China President Wilfred Fong, MGM China President and Chief Strategy and Financial Officer Kenneth Feng, Melco Resorts SVP and General Manager of Altira Macau and Mocha Clubs Raymond Lo, Galaxy Entertainment Group SVP of Public Relations Buddy Lam, Assistant Vice President of Research, Planning and Strategy for Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace Dr. Jason Ni, and Benjamin Toh, Chief Operating Officer – Finance & Development at SJM Resorts.