Sub-concessions axed, license terms amended as Macau government reveals draft revisions to gaming law

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The abolition of sub-concessions, altered license terms and increased government oversight of gaming activities are among the proposed changes to Macaus gaming law set for public consultation from Wednesday.

First details of how the new gaming law might look were announced at a press conference on Tuesday, with the draft revisions to undergo a six-week public consultation process running from 15 September to 29 October 2021.

Among the proposed changes is an end to the sub-concession system under which Sands China, MGM Resorts and Melco Resorts operate under the full concessions of Galaxy Entertainment Group, SJM Holdings and Wynn Macau respectively. No further information on what the new licensing system would look like or how many licenses would be issued were provided, although Macaus Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, said gaming tax revenue remains a key consideration.

Gaming tax should be considered very cautiously as it is relates to Macaus financial income, economic development and social welfare, he said.

The government has no specific prerequisite on the number of gaming licenses although it needs to maintain a certain scale to ensure tax revenue,

But it (the number of gaming concessions) should not expand without limitation.

Lei also refuted any possibility of introducing online gaming in Macau as the tourism industry relies so heavily on the land-based economy.

The draft suggests reconsidering the current 20-years expiration period of gaming incenses, increasing the minimum capital of gaming concessionaires, and raising the percentage of share capital held by permanent Macau residents in the concessionaires.

To strengthen the oversight of gaming operators, the draft also proposes the the government conduct qualified examinations on hired personnel of gaming concessions, junket operators and associated companies. It has also suggested implanting government representatives directly into the gaming concessionaires to directly supervise operations, ultimately tightening control of the industry.

Despite an already huge contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, the government wants even more in the future including areas such as the hiring of local residents, especially those with disabilities, plus charity, education, science and culture.

Lei said the amendment of gaming law has four major directions: reinforcing social responsibility, encouraging the expansion of non-gaming elements, strengthening government regulations of the industry for healthy development, and matching legal effects and sanctions for non-compliance.

Opinions and suggestions on the consultation document can be presented in person to the DICJ, by emailing [email protected] or calling +853 2883 7188 (with message recording).