Macau to Seek More Economic Diversity, Could Approve New Gaming Law in June

Home » Macau to Seek More Economic Diversity, Could Approve New Gaming Law in June

Posted on: February 14, 2022, 06:37h. 

Last updated on: February 14, 2022, 06:37h.

Macau’s chief executive, Ho Iat-seng, has provided an update on the city’s direction. While casinos will continue to play a huge role, “economic diversification” is coming sooner than expected.

Ho Iat-Seng
Macau chief executive Ho Iat-Seng when he was sworn in by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two are working together to shape the future of Macau. (Image: China Daily)

Macau is facing a “complex and volatile development situation.” This was among the opening remarks Macau’s leader told the Macao Chamber of Commerce last Friday. As a result, and in light of continued questions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new opportunities and challenges lie ahead.

In order to respond to the challenges and the volatility, economic diversity will need to make its way to the city. A few years ago, Macau’s leadership began making plans for this. At the time, it began discussing how to move away from its reliance on casino gambling. The city will now expedite its plans.

China Plays a Role In Macau’s Development

The goal of economic diversity, and the path to achieve it, is not coming solely from Macau’s internal objectives for the city. It’s also not a result of a desire to attract other types of tourism apart from the gambling segment. As Ho alluded to in his speech, it is also coming from what China wants for the city.

The [Chinese] central government will continue to unswervingly implement the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy and continue to support Macau in actively promoting moderately diversified economic development,” asserts Macau chief executive Ho Iat-seng.

The chief executive explained that both Macau and China now have a “clearer understanding” of the challenges Macau faces with its economy. He added, without going into specifics, that China has provided its take on the development of Macau going forward, and what the city needs to succeed.

Updated Gaming Law Set for Approval

Macau’s legislators are inching closer to giving their final approval to the city’s updating gaming laws. The Legislative Assembly overwhelmingly approved the draft laws when they discussed them last month, but one more reading is needed. The gaming industry now knows when that could take place.

Chan Chak Mo is a Macau legislator and president of the second standing committee of the Macao Legislative Assembly. The committee is responsible for reviewing the gaming law amendments and trying to find clarity where necessary and just held its first private review, according to The Macao News.

After that meeting, Chan met with local press. He explained that the Legislative Assembly could give the new laws their final reading on June 26. This would coincide with the expiration of the six casino concessions in Macau. However, it doesn’t offer any opportunity for redress prior to the law entering into force.

The discussion centered on the bill’s proposed articles about the suitability criteria for the “managing director” of a gaming concession entity. Chan explained that the committee also reviewed the government’s proposal to recognize “management companies.” These would be responsible for managing all or part of a casino owned by a gaming concessionaire. In the past, the term management company referred to management services at satellite casinos.

Managing Directors, Companies to Increase Position

The bill proposed changes to concessionaires’ upper management structures. It asserts that the managing director of a gaming concession must hold at least 15% of the concession’s share capital. The current requirement is 10%.

Other suggestions by the government include raising the minimum share capital requirement of any local casino concessionaire. It would go from MOP200 million (US$24.88 million) to MOP5 billion ($625 million). That could prove to be a contentious point for gaming operators. 

The sub-committee will continue to review the gaming law amendments this week, as well as for the next several weeks. Chan indicated that the group is working closely with other lawmakers to seek clarification on a number of points. However, he didn’t mention if the committee will make many public updates before the June 26 deadline.

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