Hong Kong media: Macau government may cut the number of casino concessions

As the current six gaming concessions in Macau are expiring next year

As the current six gaming concessions in Macau are expiring next year and the Macau government has yet to stipulate the bidding requirements for the new round of casino licences, it is quite likely that the authorities may cut the number of concessions to as few as three, according to Hong Kong media reports quoting informed legal experts in Macau.

Quoting legal experts who are familiar with the review of the bidding of gaming concessions, the Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao reported that current conditions in Macau did not allow for any increase in the number of casino licences, which may even be reduced to 3-5 from the current six. The report added that if Macau’s gaming law could not be amended in time before the expiry of the current casino concessions to lay down the requirements for the new round of bidding, the current gaming concessions are likely to be renewed.

According to the report, it is still possible that the number of gaming licences will remain unchanged after the law amendment but it is very unlikely for any junket operator to be awarded a casino concession. Legal experts believe that as the mainland Chinese government has vowed to combat organised gaming outside Chinese borders, it is expected that gaming companies in Macau will try to rely less on junket promoters and instead focus more on the development of the mass market and add more non-gaming attractions to their offerings.

Meanwhile Francis Lui, Vice Chairman of Galaxy Entertainment Group (27) and a deputy to the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told reporters in Beijing during the annual NPC and CPPCC meetings that the Macau government had yet to approach the company for talks about the renewal of Galaxy Entertainment’s gaming concession. But Lui pointed out that his firm would make all necessary preparations and he was confident that the Macau government would seek the public’s opinions first before arriving at any conclusion.

Francis Lui added that although the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to the gaming industry, he believed that things would get better in the latter half of this year. He said the government could consider the possibility of a “vaccine passport” or a “travel bubble” to kick-start the recovery of the tourism industry.

According to Lui, the casino resorts operated by Galaxy Entertainment have seen increased foot traffic since last September after the mainland Chinese government resumed the issuance of individual travel permits to Macau, and the recent cancellation of Covid-19 test certificates upon entry to casinos has further boosted visitor footfall.

Lui emphasised that his firm would remain focused on business developments in Macau but still hoped to find suitable opportunities to invest in Hengqin or the Greater Bay area as it had adequate cash flow.