Macau Govt. won’t allow ‘satellite casinos’ to reopen amid draft law change that would enable casino spaces rental from non-licensees

At the Macau Legislative Assembly plenary session on Monday, the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, said that closed satellite casinos will not be permitted to reopen, despite the government’s recent U-turn in a legislative amendment that would allow gambling concessionaires to rent casino spaces from non-licensees. However, the associated concessionaire must carry forward the employment of all dealers working for the satellite casino “unconditionally”. 

During the parliamentary question session, the official was questioned by lawmakers on the impact satellite casino closures will have on local employment. Lawmaker Ella Lei questioned how the government would manage the impact of the in-depth adjustment on the casino market.

In response, the Finance Secretary insisted that owners of closed satellite casinos “should not consider” reopening the establishments, something that completely neglects the fact that the closure of a casino requires a prior application to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) and such a decision may not be reversible.

Macau Legislative Assembly

Satellite casino refers to the non-legal practice of casinos operating on premises not owned by gambling concessionaires. Over a month ago, the government submitted to the parliament the draft of the amendment to the gaming law, however, the local community was unsettled by the government’s proposal that all casinos must be operated in properties owned by gambling concessionaires.

Although a three-year buffer period was proposed, the government’s proposal led to heated debates, considering the existence of about two dozen satellite casinos across the city. Two weeks ago the parliamentary committee responsible for studying the amendment to the law, announced that the government had altered its proposal, stating that the new proposal would allow gambling concessionaires to rent casino spaces from non-licensees.

The reason why the government made adjustments to [its proposal] is that it hopes to achieve a win-win situation,” Lei told the parliament. “Of course, the government hopes satellite casinos will remain open and hopes to create healthily manageable conditions [for them], he stated as reported by Macau Daily Times.

In regards to the impact that the satellite casinos shutdown would have on the job market, Lei said that casino property owners are responsible for the employment and related issues concerning their employees, adding that employees could approach the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) for assistance if needed. He also stated that any business closure is a commercial decision and that the government will not intervene and that gambling concessionaires must absorb croupiers who work at their satellite establishments.

The Secretary said if non-local workers become surplus to requirements due to the shrinking scale of the business, they should be considered after the local workforce, meaning that they should be dismissed prior to local workers. However, lawmaker Becky Song was not convinced. She pointed out that gambling concessionaires may not have the power to replace non-local workers with a local workforce. They may simply eliminate the positions.

Lawmaker Lo Choi In asked whether the government would consider reviewing the unemployment subsidy scheme. Lei reiterated that DSAL is doing job-matching every day, implying that having a job is better than living on subsidy.