Macau government analysing amendments for gaming concession law

Macau’s government is considering amendments to current gaming concession legislation that could affect the city’s current casinos in the next five years.

Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong told the Macau Daily Times the government “will analyze various options – including the possibility of amendment to terms and conditions – regarding any refreshment of gaming rights for Macau’s current gaming concessions and sub-concessions.”

The current gaming concession laws in Macau grant 20-year expiration dates for all land-based casinos in the special administrative region, and the time for renewal is fast approaching for all six current gaming operators.

Starting in 2020, MGM China and SJM Holdings will both need to renew their licenses, while Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts Entertainment, Sands China and Wynn Macau will need to sort things out in 2022. While licences don’t renew automatically, the Chief Executive can extend them in increments of time to a maximum of five extra years – but afterwards, a new concession process has to take place.

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Leong said the government has to “cautiously assess such matters” owing to the importance of casinos and the wider gaming industry in Macau’s booming economy, but that more consideration for tourism offerings and non-gaming activities was also needed to bolster the current gaming industry recovery.

According to Government Information Bureau press release, Leong said tourism services in the first quarter of 2017 grew by more than 20 percent year-on-year, to emphasise Macau’s economy was not just growing thanks to the gaming industry.

Leong believes authorities will need to wait until the peak summer travel season to accurately analyse the health of the gaming industry.

Earlier in June, gross gaming receipts were released by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau which revealed the region had experienced a 25.9 per cent jump in monthly gaming earnings to 19.99 billion patacas (US$2.49 billion), the highest recorded growth in total gaming revenue for Macau since February 2014.

Author’s comments: Macau high roller junkets are clearly having a great year, with the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau previously reporting VIP revenue growth of 13%, mass revenue growth of 7% and overall gaming revenue growth up 10% in 2017 – which a whole lot better than 2016’s numbers. It’s interesting to see the government’s push for more non-gaming based business paying off with 20 per cent growth earlier this year, but it’s till very clear where the money is.

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