EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Gov’t extended Jockey Club concession to preserve local gaming diversity – Paulo Martins Chan

The former Director of Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ), Paulo Martins Chan stated in an exclusive interview with Macau News Agency and Macau Business that local authorities decided to extend the concession held by the Macau Jockey Club as a way to preserve the diversity of local gaming offerings.

In 2018 Macau Horsing Racing Company saw its concession to explore the Macau Jockey Club operations extended by 24 years and six months until 2042, despite the company owing some MOP150 million (US$18.7 million) to the government.

“The Government wanted to preserve some diversity and, since they needed some time to develop their business, the government allowed them more time than usual or expected. However, there are conditions involved, like paying back the money they owe. Also, if they are unable to complete the different phases of the project within the respective and agreed timings, the whole contract will likely be voided,” Chan told Macau News Agency.

“We proceeded to study the situation and we submitted a study to the higher instances. The general feeling is that we should have diversification in the local economy and within the gaming sector itself. We had already terminated greyhound racing and if we did the same to horse racing, we would end up with only casino and slot hall gaming”.

Officially opened and operated by Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. starting from 1963, the canidrome racetrack closed doors after more than 50 years in operation on July 20, 2018 as the gaming exploration concession granted to the company came to an end.

Both Yat Yuen and the Macau Jockey Club are connected to businesswoman and legislator, Angela Leong On Kei.

The Jockey Club has been mandated to pay the full MOP150 million owed until March 2021, with MOP4.17 million having to be paid monthly, otherwise the extended concession contract would be cancelled.

In order to see its license renewed, the company has pledged to invest between MOP3.5 billion to MOP4.5 billion to develop the area, including the construction of two hotels, smart stables, a horse theme park, and a riding school.

The company was also forced to undergo restructuring, having to achieve a minimum in the registered capital of MOP1.5 billion by 2023 in different phases.

Macau Horsing Racing Company recently reported MOP1.5 billion (US$188.5 million) in retained losses in 2019, down from the MOP4.1 billion reported in 2017.

The company also indicated to have already concluded some works outlined in the extension contract, such as renewal works at its horse swimming pools, horse stables, and the first to fifth floors of its main building.

Paulo Martins Chan requested to step down from his position as DICJ Director so that he could return to the Public Prosecutions Office, with Adriano Marques Ho replacing him in the position effective from June 10.

[Read the full exclusive interview with Paulo Martins Chan in the July edition of Macau Business magazine]