Gaming concessions likely extended for short time period if law revision not ready by June – Gov’t

As Macau’s six existing gaming concessions and subconcessions will expire by this June, André Cheong, spokesperson of the Executive Council and Secretary for Administration and Justice, said that if legislative amendment process of the gaming law revision is not completed by then, “the government is mulling to extend the licenses for a certain time period and the details will be announced in due course”.

Mr Cheong was addressing the media at a press conference this afternoon (Friday) where the Executive Council announced the gaming law amendment proposal.

Asked by the media several times about the timetable for the legislative work of the proposed amendments and the roll-out of the new public tender, the official just noted: “The Government will fully cooperate with the Legislative Assembly in reviewing and deliberating the proposed gaming law revision, and hopes that the law could be passed as soon as possible.”

“All the works, regarding the gaming law revision and preparation for the new public tender, will be carried out in an orderly manner. If the current licenses have to be extended, [the extension] will only last for a short time period,” he said, adding either existing local gaming operators or new companies are welcome to join the new round of public tender.

The future maximum number of gaming licenses will be kept at six while the duration of license will be capped at 10 years with the possibility of a 3-year extension, according to the long-awaited proposal of gaming law revision. 

The Macau authorities unveiled the proposed amendments to the gaming law today (Friday), following a 45-day consultation period in September and October.

Regarding why the length of the licenses is capped at 10 years, compared with the current 20-year period with the possibility of a five-year extension, Mr Cheong added the duration for the existing licenses lasted for 20 years in the past to give time for the operators to develop their projects.

“If an existing concessionaire secures a new concession, it could operate with its existing infrastructure promptly,” he explained while addressing why 10 years are enough for the duration of the future gaming licenses. “If there is a new operator, it could use the existing gaming infrastructure and recruit existing staff [from the existing operator that fails to retain its license] to run its operation seamlessly.”

“Following the development of the gaming industry in the past two decades, the existing gaming infrastructure is enough to satiate the demand and the scale of the industry should not be expanded anymore,” the official added.

Mr Cheong also remarked in the press conference today that the government has no plan to change the taxation level on gross gaming revenue, which is 35 per cent of the gross gaming revenue of Macau casinos now. There are also other levies imposed upon gaming operators for social and welfare purposes, making the overall gaming taxation level in Macau at around 39 per cent.

The Executive Council, the Chief Executive’s top advisory body, has completed the review of the bill, which will be sent to the Legislative Assembly for discussion now, André Cheong Weng Chon added.