Extension of concessions to 2022 | 30 doubts for 2019

In his 2018 Policy Address, Chief Executive Chui Sai On told the media that he would reveal more information on gaming concession renewals in the “middle of 2018,” but nothing relevant has been heard so far.

More recently, the Secretary for Economy said the government is researching 2020 gaming concession renewals – since the concessions of SJM and MGM China are to expire in 2020, while the others expire in 2022. 

As time passes, the more consistency the scenario gains from a temporary extension (two years?) to hit the others, leaving the big decisions for the new Chief Executive who is to be sworn in, in a year. 

This scenario has already been applauded by SJM (“to allow the firm to compete for fresh Macau gaming rights at the same pace as four other gaming operators in the city”) and by MGM (“It would be beneficial to industry and not only for one or two concessionaires; we have the extra time to prepare a stronger proposal and demonstrate that we are able to attract non-players.”) 

There is a consensus of sorts in Macau that says the six operators will receive a new licence. The question is whether the competition coming [2020? Be aware that the new government needs time to realise what is happening and a dossier like this is complex] will be just a formalisation or will open genuinely new vacancies. 

Many voices argue that more operators strengthen the goal of making Macau a centre of tourism and leisure, and that limiting the operation to a ‘renewal’ of the six current licences is in effect a missed opportunity. 

Who wants a 7th or 8th licence? 

No-one doubts that there is plenty of interest in a possible 7th or even 8th gaming concession in Macau, but everyone is waiting to see what the government (both local and Beijing) will decide. 

For its part, the MSAR Government would undoubtedly feel pressured if there were manifestations of interest – otherwise, it can always say that it is limited to the six existing licences. 

What next, then? 

A few months ago, investment bank Union Gaming said that a number of sites in the city were showing signs of increased construction activity, linked to the potential activation or reactivation of gaming licences. Grant Govertsen, author of the note, underlined that several projects are likely to be used as “leverage” to obtain a possible extra gaming licence. 

Of these, Union Gaming referred to a project adjacent to the roundabout close to Wynn Macau and the old Lisboa casino-hotel, a project long rumoured to be owned or indirectly controlled by the Genting Group. In recent months, Macau Business has tried to contact various individuals within the Genting Group about the projects for Macau, but the company maintains that there is nothing to say. 

The brokerage also included the development of a 2-star hotel by the Golden Dragon Group, close to SJM’s Grand Lisboa, claiming the group “must be considered one of the leading contenders for any new licence.” 

Chan Meng Kam is the only person to date who has publicly expressed that he is interested in a licence, although he has not made a formal statement to that effect. The message, however, is clear. And the most voted deputy in the history of the MSAR has a strong argument: it already owns and / or operates four service provider casinos in the city.