Macau legislators urge govt to clarify casino retender

The Macau government should give the public more information on a planned revision of the city’s gaming law, and explain its timetable for a retender process for the city’s gaming rights, suggested a Macau Legislative Assembly subcommittee tasked with monitoring public concessions.

The recommendations were part of a report – signed off on August 2 by the 10-member committee – submitted in draft form to the Macau government. The report was written following a meeting between the committee and officials that discussed the gaming concessions subject in May.

In that report, the committee said “many” of its members suggested the Macau government need not “hasten” the retender process for the city’s gaming rights prior to the June 2022 expiry of the current licences.

Were the process to be rushed, it might result in “lower-quality” bids cast for the city’s gaming rights.

Macau’s current six gaming concessions are due to expire in June 2022, unless the authorities grant a form of limited extension as permitted under existing Macau gaming law. Such extension can be in increments, up to a maximum of five years from the original 20-year term.

After that, it is envisaged any new concession would have to be granted via a public tender of international scope.

The legislators committee said in its report that the Macau government should soon announce to the public its intended timing for launching the re-tender process, so as to avoid causing “constant doubts” from the society.

The committee members believed that it was “not easy” for the government to fulfill its intended schedule of launching public consultation on the city’s gaming law revision within the second half of this year before completing the respective legislation process, as such works involved  “complicated” content.

The Macau government has aimed to complete the revision of the gaming law by the fourth quarter this year, prior to submitting a finalised draft bill to the Legislative Assembly, according to Policy Address published in November. Such a step is necessary ahead of the public retender process for the gaming concessions.

China’s criminal code

“We hope that the government could…launch the public consultation [on gaming law revision] soon to explain to the public its policy direction, so that the legislation process can be completed as scheduled, and the sector can get sufficiently prepared,” the committee wrote.

In the report, the legislators committee has also called for attention on the implications of China’s amended criminal code on Macau’s gaming law revision process, as well as the VIP gaming sector. China’s criminal code changes, which took effect on March 1, outlaw anyone who “organises” mainland Chinese for the purpose of overseas gambling.

As the amended criminal code took effect, it represented “reinforced measures” by China in “restricting capital outflow and combatting organised overseas gambling”, the committee wrote. It added: “Such is a major warning to the gaming sector from the whole Southeast Asia, or even of the world.”

“…there were members that reminded the [Macau] government to analyse the impact of the criminal code [changes] on Macau’s gaming sector – especially the VIP gaming businesses – because such amendment could mean that it would be hard for the VIP sector to maintain its existing business model”, the committee wrote.