Macau Says Casino Concession Extension Needed for Gambling Law Work

Home » Macau Says Casino Concession Extension Needed for Gambling Law Work

Posted on: March 3, 2022, 05:54h. 

Last updated on: March 3, 2022, 02:39h.

Macau’s lawmakers have determined that they’re going to need more time to figure out the nuts and bolts of the city’s new gambling laws. As a result, officials have authorized an extension to existing casino concessions.

Lei Wai Nong
Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, addresses a local audience. He has announced that Macau concessions will be extended until the end of the year. (Image: Plataforma Media)

Andrew W. Scott, the vice-chairman and CEO of Inside Asian Gaming, said this week that Macau would announce an extension to existing casino concessions “likely this month.” He was right — the government announced the extension today.

Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, told local media today that the existing casino concessions will be given an extension until December 31. This is a result of the ongoing review of the city’s updated gambling laws, which is apparently taking longer than hoped.

Delays Coming to New Macau Gaming Scheme

The Legislative Assembly hastily approved the new rules and regulations for the gaming industry this past January. Since then, a special committee has spent each day meticulously picking apart the laws.

In that process, they have come across certain items that need further clarification. As a result, they have determined that it will be virtually impossible to have the final language in place by June 26, the day the current concessions expire.

Lei explained that the government notified the concessionaires that they need to apply for the extension, which is almost an automatic process. However, the new licensing isn’t similarly automated.

All six existing licensees have an entrenched position in the market. Still, this doesn’t mean they will automatically receive a new concession once the new licensing process begins. Although there’s no reason to anticipate a rejection for any of the operators, the possibility still exists.

Time for an Exit Strategy

One of the most confusing elements in the updated gambling laws is the section dealing with satellite casinos. While these have always meant to be part of the operations of a primary license holder, a lot of leeway has led to the satellites becoming almost completely autonomous. That will no longer be the case.

Lawmakers are clarifying how the government wants to handle the transition and what will happen to the tertiary operators if they’re forced out. Should the latter happen, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) thinks it can help.

Imperial Pacific International (IPI) continues to prove its unworthiness as a casino operator in CNMI’s Saipan. Therefore, the Commonwealth Casino Commission’s boss, Andrew Yeom, needs an alternative. He appears ready to push for an expansion to the number of casino licenses, currently limited to just one.

To fill the extra spots, he would welcome displaced operators from Macau, according to The Guam Daily Post. It wouldn’t be an easy task, however, to issue new licenses. Yeom already pointed out earlier this year that trying to remove IPI’s exclusivity in Saipan might be unconstitutional.

IPI owes more than $30 million to the government and countless millions more to private companies. So, perhaps an amendment to the constitution at this point isn’t a bad idea.

Macau is going to give satellite venue owners three years to sell their gaming spaces to one of the six licensed operators. The period begins as soon as the operators receive their new concessions, which could be early next year.

The deal will only cover the physical space the gaming activity utilizes. It doesn’t cover the entire real property held by the satellite operator.

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