Macau Gambling Industry Amendment Bill Gets Passed After First Reading

31 january 2022
Author: James Burton
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The special committee of Macau greenlighted the draft law that is designed to assist the local gambling industry. The bill is supposed to be discussed behind closed doors, which is set to happen towards the middle of February.

Macau gambling industry amendment bill gets passed

What is Known About the Bill?

Originally, this legislation document was presented by financial executive Lei Wan Nong. In his words, the industry could benefit from a bigger focus on the elements that are not directly to do with gaming, like accommodation and shopping. The official considers it to be crucial to propose some basic rules for these elements.

In the past, visitors were attracted to the Macau casino establishments solely because of gambling aspects. However, in recent years, this has changed, as people have more needs when they arrive to gamble. Therefore, the officials feel like it would be beneficial to make the general industry more diverse.

There will be some additional responsibilities put on the process of bidding. This means that the operators are expected to suggest ideas for negotiation, which the official committee will eventually make decisions on.

The Issue of Satellite Casinos

In the first review session of the new legislation document, the executives brought up the issue of ending the work of so-called satellite casinos. These establishments have no precise space for their functioning that is officially recognised by the government of Macau.

Such casino spots are operated by investors that work independently from the territory. Currently, there are approximately 20 of these, and their activities are a controversial question.

At the official gathering, a lot of law experts voiced their opinions on the matter and proposed a lot of problems to solve. For instance, the labour alliance expressed their concerns about the effect that closing this establishment would have on the market, with thousands of people working on it and acting as supporting employees.

In the words of legislation representatives, these casinos were contributing positively to the general environment in certain areas, as they were expressing their support for stores and restaurants. In addition, they also impacted educational facilities and healthcare lines of service.

A Solution to the Problem

The new law proposed for satellite casino spaces to run their business in the government-owned premises. Due to all the gambling dens being governmental properties, they need to be accessible and linked to the higher authorities at all times.

As Lei Wan Nong explains, the newly accepted laws are not threatening the satellite casinos and have no plans to shut them down. In fact, the legislation will enforce some restrictions on their operation, such as being confined to premises approved by officials.

A few years are set to pass before the new rules become official. In the meantime, those responsible for casinos are supposed to get in close touch with local concessions and establish partnerships in order to be permitted to function. So far, no more information on this matter was released.

In Lei’s words, people who own these establishments will get a lot of time to adjust to the new regulations, as they will be granted 3 years to make the changes. Still, he did not give a clear answer to the question of whether these improvements were thoroughly evaluated by governmental figures.

The New Legislation

New legislation for the gambling industry in Macau

The latest bill was approved by 30 voters and disproved by 1. The lawmaker that voted against the new draft explained that there are no sufficient details on the resolution of the issue with establishments that are not tied to official premises. More questions on it were raised and communicated before the final round of votes.

As a reason to vote against it, the lawmaker Ron Lam U Tou named the lack of clarification and suggested that the legislators propose precise plans on how to change the situation with the satellite gaming facilities. He also mentioned that the important documentation regarding the bidding may be intentionally hidden from the public eye.

In the defence of the law, Lei responded that certain ideas and proposals needed to be unclear in the initial stages of the legislation. In the process of its development, he said, there would be more clarity. As for the privacy of documents, the expert mentioned that this should be approved by governmental figures.

Draft Law Summary

Originally, the draft came out to the public in the middle of January 2022. It contains over 40 pages and describes the ideas of how to improve the control of casino establishments. The change is considered to be one of the biggest alterations in the Macau market in 20 years.

The licences that will be given out to official gaming brands will decrease to 6, with each of them lasting for 10 years. In addition, junket sections at the gambling dens will be prohibited, as well as the agreements of shared revenue. Even though promo companies will be eligible for junket documentation, they will only be able to function within one concession.

The document details some plans for strengthening controlling measures over the industry. One of the regulations is a casino review once in 3 years, conducted by equipped teams that will check whether a space is complying with all the rules. Also, no more than 30 percent of the stakes owned by the company can now be presented to the public for listing purposes. Any serious money operations should be discussed with the government.

The officials secured the right to end contractual agreements for certain reasons, such as the company not complying with the rules. Gambling operators will have to advocate for playing responsibly. Therefore, there will be a technical equipment cap per licensed administrator. Due to the new law taking place, the businesses will go through some budget increases, which will be strictly supervised by financial committees.

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