© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Electronic monitors are seen inside a casino on the opening day of Sheraton Macao hotel at Sands Cotai Central in Macau September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Macau’s government begins a 45-day public consultation on Wednesday to gauge public opinion on changes to its gaming law ahead of the rebidding process of its multi-billion dollar casinos next year.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Casino operators Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Holdings, Melco Entertainment and MGM China are all required to rebid for their licenses, known as concessions, when they expire in June 2022.
Macau stocks plummeted by as much as a third on Wednesday, losing around $14 billion in value, as investors fear the gaming review will lead to tighter regulations in the world’s largest gambling hub. [L1N2QH01D]
Macau has not yet made the rebidding process clear.
A government proposal does not include how many concessions should be granted in future.
Lei Wai Nong, Macau’s secretary for economy and finance, said increasing the number could bring “unhealthy competitiveness”.
“This can mean that the government might maintain or even reduce the number of concessionaires,” he added.
Lei also said the government was open to modifying the current concession period of 20 years but did not give further details.
The government is proposing to increase Macau permanent residents’ voting shares in the gaming concessionaires, as well as additional rules on the transfer and distribution of profits to shareholders.
Authorities are also proposing government representatives be selected to participate in casino operators’ daily operations to increase supervision.
Lei has outlined nine main areas proposed by the government to be discussed in the consultation which runs until Oct. 29:
1. Number of gaming concessions to be granted
2. The length of the concessions
3. Strengthened official requirements for the casino operators
4. Employee protection measures
5. Strengthened verification for concessionaires and junket operators
6. Introducing government representatives to monitor day to day operations.
7. Promote projects with non-gaming elements
8. Social responsibility
9. Clarify new criminal liability and administrative punishment system.
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