Macao’s six gaming operators received their new licences this afternoon in a special signing ceremony hosted by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng.
All six concessionaires – MGM Grand Paradise, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Venetian Macau, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and SJM Resorts – already run casinos in Macao and earlier this year submitted applications for the renewal of their licences which were due to expire on 31 December.
Also present in the ceremony were the Secretary for Justice and Administration, André Cheong and the Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong. During the ceremony MGM was represented by Co-Chairperson and Managing Director Pansy Ho, Galaxy by Chairman Lui Che Woo, Venetian by President and Executive Director Wilfred Wong, Melco by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Ho, Wynn by CEO Craig Billings and SJM by Chairman and Executive Director Daisy Ho.
The new licences run for a period of 10 years, however the operators have to undertake a wider role in the city’s economy and day-to-day life.
In November, the government decided to award six provisional concessions to the companies already in the market. A seventh bidder, GMM, which is linked to Malaysia’s Genting Group, was unsuccessful.
Under the terms of the new agreement, operators are required to invest MOP 100 billion in Macao between now and 2032, marking a significant financial gain for the city, and must take steps to develop non-gaming activities such as sports, culture, health and tourism, and protect the city’s labour force.
Gaming has long been Macao’s economic mainstay, and the city has suffered grievously due to pandemic travel restrictions, which have curtailed arrivals from mainland China, the source of the bulk of the city’s visitors.
Last month’s gross gaming revenue was down 56 per cent year-on-year to MOP 3 billion, and the government has had to raid its financial reserves to balance the budget.
Following the ceremony at a press conference, Cheong said that every year in September the concessionaires would need to present a plan of their activities for the forthcoming twelve months, while noting that when deciding to award the concessions, great importance was laid on the ability to attract foreign gamblers and projects unrelated to gaming.
“At the moment foreign gamblers represent only 3.58 per cent,” he said. “The government hopes that in the future foreign gamblers will be double of the present percentage.”
Cheong commented: “Of the 18 satellite casinos previously in operation, 11 will be allowed to operate from January onwards – nine from Galaxy, one from SJM and one from Melco.
“They will be allowed three years to become management companies.”
At the press conference, Ao Ieong U, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture added that: “We are following Covid-19 measures from mainland China. If the situation can be controlled in the short term, we will soon reduce the regulations in place to facilitate the movement of people.
“Step by step, international flights and ferries to Hong Kong will start operations. It’s a question of time and we are doing it gradually.”