Pandemic delayed works for future gaming law revision, concessions extension still on the table – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng said today (Sunday) that the Covid-19 pandemic has further delayed legislative works for revising the local gaming law and considered that extending the current gaming concessions was just one of many options being considered.

A legislative review to the current gaming law is a necessary step ahead of a public retender process for Macau gaming rights, linked to the expiry in June 2022 of the existing six gaming concessions.

The 2021 Policy Address document published in November revealed that that the draft of the revised gaming law could be submitted to the Legislative Assembly (AL) by the last quarter of next year, depending on when the public consultation process is initiated.

“Because of the pandemic we delayed some works for the public consultation but we are making efforts to go forward. It is work that needs to be done. It will take place in the second half of next year. We’re almost in the new year and we still have to prepare the AL elections,” Ho noted.

Analysts from Morgan Stanley recently predicted that the Macau government will likely extend the current gaming concessions beyond the current 2022 deadline by three years, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The brokerage considered that it would be necessary for the public consultation to be completed and the new gaming law approved by the AL before the third quarter of 2021, for an open bid for the gaming licenses to still be carried out before 2022.

Speaking after the Macau SAR 21st handover anniversary ceremony, refused to comment on these predictions and stated only that a public concession delay was just another possibility that was being considered.

“We are still consolidating the legal framework […]. It is hard to comment because it relates to the future development of Macau. When we have a complete legal framework we will reveal more details. Everyone can make predictions,” Ho noted.

Afterwards, Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong was also questioned on the reason for the lack of public appearances and statements by the new Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ), Adriano Ho.

Adriano Ho took over the DICJ head position from Paulo Martins Chan since the beginning of this year but has yet to make any public statements.

“I will give more opportunities at the AL for the current DICJ Director to speak,” Secretary Lei stated.