Macau Opinion | Chui’s (Benedict) option: 

Another year has passed and the taboo about the Macau gaming concessions remains. SJM concession and MGM’ (sub) concession in regards to operating 24 casinos, holding around 23 pct of the local gaming market share, (as well as employing altogether 20,000 plus workers), is due to expire in approximately 14 months - by March 31, 2020 and an official decision about their future is still being under consideration by the local authorities

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac, said that the government will announce its’ decision in due course. Apparently, local authorities keep perusing a technical report which would help determine their approach to the future of the gaming concessions.

Well, studying the effects of a decision involving the future of the local gaming industry is critical, especially in a city that is so uniquely dependent on the success of its’ operations. However, the problem is that the total absence of public reporting on the criteria, the government is considering to make the relevant decision…

In fact, if it’s true that from time to time the Secretary for Economy and Finance makes some sort of declarations in regards to the topic, the Chief Executive by his side seems to be in a sort of “shut down” mode. The absence of a public position about the topic makes me think that Chui has decided to take what is being called the,

“Benedict Option”. It is a kind of withdrawal from the mainstream media and people, which is done for the sake of something. As stated, the withdrawal is notorious, for there is no opinion, communication, or whisper on the matter.

This was proven to be the case when there was nothing heard from Chui concerning Macau’s community with respect to the future of the industry that mostly contributes to the SAR’s economic success as well as allowing its citizens to live in an environment without parallel in the outside world.

The question remains: is this being done for the sake of someone or something that we are not aware of?

That is probably the objective, but I certainly disagree with the strategy. All involved stakeholders should have the right to know, with reasonable advance, what will happen to their investments, jobs, clients, corporate organizations, brands, suppliers, partners and operations in the 14 months for the future.

It is completely against all the best practices of public management to keep decisions like this pending up to this moment, especially when the concessions were granted almost 20 years ago, and this executive has been in charge for almost a decade.

Although I understand Mr. Chui’s (Benedict) Option – there are times one needs to stop and think in order to regain control and move things in the right direction. I trust that he will and should put an end to his withdrawal and speak to the relevant stakeholders to provide them with some guidance on what is going to happen next.

I know that the majority of opinion makers and individuals when asked about the future of Macau gaming concessions reply almost always in the same manner.

The SAR Government shall extend SJM and MGM concessions in order to align themselves with other competitors. However at this stage, one should have more than just opinions, wishes or guesses-namely when the future of two of the biggest contributors of the Macau Government’s budget is at stake.