45-day public consultation on gaming law begins; proposed changes include ending casino sub-concessions, appointing gov’t delegates to operators and criminalising illicit deposits

Public consultation exercise on the revision of Macau’s gaming law began on 15 September.(Allin photo)

The long-anticipated public consultation exercise on the revision of Macau’s gaming law began on Wednesday (15 September); the public is given 45 days till 29 October to voice their opinions regarding the overall development of the city’s gaming industry.

The consultation document does not mention the number of future casino concessions but it clearly states that the government is planning to scrap the sub-concession system which has given rise to three extra licensees against three original concessions. This proposed change is intended to ensure stability of the gaming industry.

In a Tuesday press conference on the consultation, Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, said that the government would like to hear the public’s views on the maximum number of casino concessions that should be allowed in Macau, but he noted that the city needed a gaming sector of a reasonable scale so that the sector could remain competitive and support the city with a steady stream of taxation revenues.

According to Lei, the consultation document covers nine major topics: the number of concessions; the length of concessions; increased statutory requirements for gaming concessionaires; employee protection; improved vetting of casino junkets and partners of concessionaires; appointment of government delegates to gaming operators; facilitation of non-gaming development; corporate social responsibility; and outlining of criminal liabilities and administrative penalties.

Apart from appointing government delegates to oversee whether gaming operators fulfil their contract obligations, other proposed changes include the need to obtain government approval before gaming operators can pay dividends to shareholders, increasing the minimum share capital requirement for concessionaires, penalties against illicit deposits taken from the general public by casino concessionaires, their shareholders or employees.

Macau’s current six casino licences are due to expire in June 2022, but the government can extend the current concessions for up to five years as permitted under the current gaming law. The government has said Macau’s gaming law needs to be updated prior to a new round of public tendering for Macau’s gaming rights.