The six-week public consultation on proposed amendments to Macao’s gaming laws provoked a variety of strongly held opinions.
The public consultation, which was held for 45 days between 15 September to 29 October, registered 417 replies from a population of around 600,000 residents.
Most respondents objected to the idea of a vetting mechanism for the distribution of dividends among shareholders of casino operators, according to a report released yesterday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
“Most of the opinions collected during the consultation period disagree with the respective proposal, as they understand that establishing prior authorisation from the government constitutes a limitation that will interfere with the free market and may ward off the interest of concessionaires/sub-concessionaires in investing”, the report stated.
Of the 46 people who made their feelings known, 28 opposed the vetting mechanism suggestion, while the remainder were in favour.
A bid to appoint a government representative to the city’s gaming concessionaires met with a more favourable response, with 57 respondents in favour and 38 against, although officials pointed out that the government realised that such a move might be seen as interfering with companies’ independence.
The report noted: “In this sense, the government will consider balancing the various interests and factors in order to reinforce the supervision of concessionaires/sub-concessionaires, without affecting the objective of the law amendment, which is to increase the competitiveness of the gaming sector.”
One of the major points raised by the consultation – the number of gaming concessions – gained a wide response.
Most favoured allowing six concessions, and doing away with the current sub-concession arrangement. Outwardly, this would be in line with the current number of operators.
“In the development process of the gaming sector, maintaining a certain size constitutes an important basis for guaranteeing social stability and employment of residents”, the report noted.
On the subject of the length of time granted to concessions, 10 per cent said it should be longer than the current 20 years, 32 per cent reckoned the current system was correct, and 42 per cent said it should be lowered.
The government noted that “the shortening of the concession period [would] allow Macao greater opportunities – depending on development trends and policies – to timely and adequately adjust the gaming sector in due course in order to ensure the industry’s competitiveness.”
AGB has reported that industry analysts have generally reacted favourably to the report, indicating that Macao’s gaming scene was unlikely to experience any dramatic changes in the near future. It is widely expected that the government will conduct retendering of licences by 26 June 2022, and will not extend the current concessions.