Macau gaming bill allows six casino concessions to last ten years

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The Executive Council approved a bill to be sent to the legislature, after the Bureau of Gaming Supervision (DICJ) published responses to an initial consultation on changes at the end of last year.

Under the new rules, six concessions to operate casinos in Macau would be permitted. While this would be an increase from the three full concessions currently available, sub-concessions would no longer be permitted.

As three sub-concessionaires are allowed to operate under the current system, the new rule would effectively keep the number of permitted operators in Macau at six.

While the Macau government in its initial proposal said it was looking into a reduction in concession numbers, public responses to its initial consultation showed strong support for keeping the number of operators at six.

In the consultation, 217 responses dealt with the question of the number of concessions.

Of these responses, 22 indicated they wished to see no more than six concessions issued. A further 95 said they would prefer exactly six concessions, while 36 supported there being more than six concessions. The remaining responses did not have a clear preference.

These concessions would last for ten years, down from the 20-year concessions granted when Macau opened its gaming market, but can be extended for up to three years under exceptional circumstances.

Certain requirements for concessionaires have also been tightened. For example, 15% of shares in any business granted a licence must be held by a managing director that is a Macau resident.

In addition, concessionaires must also have a minimum share capital of MOP5bn (£454m/€543m/$621m).

According to the Executive Council, the new proposals will also “strengthen the mechanisms for verifying and supervising the suitability of concessionaires, individuals and companies that participate in gambling activities”. This, it said, would involve increasing the scope of suitability checks.

It also promised that the social responsibilities of concessionaires would be more thoroughly defined.

While further details on this were not provided, the initial consultation said that licensees should take on a number of specific social responsibilities, including supporting small and medium-sized local businesses, protecting labour rights and taking part in philanthropic ventures.

Although the initial consultation proposed adding government representatives to the board of each concessionaire, there was no mention of this in the Executive Council’s summary of the bill that will be sent to the Legislative Assembly.

The Assembly will vote on this bill, which is set to come into force the day after it is published.

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