A Macau government senior official confirmed on Monday that the city will launch “in the second half of this year,” a public consultation process regarding the revision of the city’s gaming law, including provisions for a new public tender for Macau gaming rights.
The city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, said so in comments to the local media.
The “preparation work” for public consultation was “now in progress,” stated Mr Lei.
“We have prepared to launch the consultation in the second half of this year,” added the Secretary. He was speaking at a Monday briefing on a fresh package of government financial support for Macau ID holders and local companies amid the ongoing economic effects on the Macau tourism and gaming sectors, of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Work to pave the way for a fresh public tender for Macau gaming rights includes amendment to current Macau gaming law.
The government had flagged in its Policy Address for Fiscal Year 2021 announced in November, that it aimed to submit such amendments to the Legislative Assembly by the fourth quarter of this year.
That led some commentators to speculate that the timetable for public consultation and for gaming law amendment would be too tight to allow for a new public tender before June 2022, when the six current gaming licences are due to expire, and that some extension of existing rights might be needed.
Current Macau gaming law states that the licences of the existing holders can be extended for a maximum of up to five years from the original 20-year term.
On Monday, Secretary Lei – the official overseeing Macau’s gaming sector – was also asked whether the city’s government still maintained an earlier forecast of MOP130 billion (US$16.28 billion) for the city’s casino gross gaming revenue in full-year 2021.
He said simply: “Now we are only in the first quarter, and there are still three quarters ahead.”
The city’s gaming revenue trend had been “stabilising” and then “rising” since mainland China reopened on September 23, exit visa applications for its residents to make trips to Macau under the country’s Individual Visit Scheme (IVS), Secretary Lei stated.
The Macau government collected MOP6.32 billion in tax from the city’s gaming industry in the first two months of this year. The sum accounted for 67.7 percent of the MOP9.34-billion tax revenue the government collected from all sources during that period, according to the latest data from the Financial Services Bureau.
The Macau government expected to collect nearly MOP50.01 billion in taxes from the city’s gaming industry for the full year 2021, according to its budget plan for the current fiscal year.
Mr Lei gave some brief commentary on Monday regarding the Covid-19 vaccination programmes on respectively the mainland and in Macau, suggesting they could aid recovery of the Macau tourism market. The mainland is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.
The official said the Macau government would continue stimulus measures to boost mainland-China tourists’ spending in the city. Methods would include promotional giveaways on flight tickets, on hotel stays, and on other items, using some online commercial platforms favoured by mainland consumers, Mr Lei added.
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”I wouldn’t be surprised if the [Macau casino] licences get extended for a year or even two years”
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung
Chairman and chief executive of international casino operator Melco Resorts