The Macau government is “inclined” to launch a fresh public tender process for Macau gaming rights upon the expiry in 2022 of the current concessions for the city’s six casino operators. But the authorities didn’t specify in a Friday press conference – even when pressed on the topic by reporters – whether such a process would be in that expiry year.
The briefing was called to make a formal announcement that all six operators would be on the same finish line for their current concessions, i.e., June 26, 2022, after the local government approved a request to extend the gaming concessions of SJM Holdings Ltd and MGM China Holdings Ltd, that had been due to end in 2020
The media briefing was led by the city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac (pictured in filed photo). He was accompanied by other officials including Paulo Martins Chan, the head of the city’s gaming regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, a body also known as DICJ.
Asked by a reporter for a yes or no answer on whether the aim was for a new public tender process in 2022, Mr Leong said simply: “When the gaming concessions expire, the Macau government is inclined to launch a public tender [for new gaming rights].” He did not specify if such tender would be launched before the existing licences expire in 2022 nor if the government planned to extend such concessions beyond that year.
Macau gaming law states that the licences of the existing holders can be extended for a maximum of up to five years from the 20-year term, via a Chief Executive decision. But once a gaming concession contract expires, any new concession would have to be granted via an international public tender.
During the Friday press briefing, Mr Leong also did not give a direct answer when asked if the city’s government intended to keep the scale of the local gaming industry at its current level or increase the number of concessions at the time of a new public tender.
“As I’ve said before, we’ll consider factors of Macau’s economic stability, financial security and also of [China’s] national security. On this issue we will listen to opinions from society for our overall consideration,” Mr Leong stated.
The Secretary also noted that work on amendments to the relevant legal framework would be undertaken to prepare for the launch of a fresh public tender for gaming concessions in Macau, but he did not mention any time-frame for doing so.
“The government would have the ability to further extend current concession periods by up to five years in total [from June 2022] … However, there is no indication, at the present time, that the government may do so,” brokerage Sanford C. Berstein Ltd suggested in a Friday note.
“A likely scenario is that there will not be any new concession-related announcements until after 2020,” the brokerage added.
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Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International