At least “seven” Macau satellite casinos – nearly 40 percent of such properties currently active in the local market – might withdraw from the sector by mid-year, reported Chinese-language media outlet Macao Daily News on Thursday, citing industry sources it did not identify. It also did not name the venues.
But it did say the properties were respectively located in the NAPE district of Macau peninsula, and in the Taipa district.
Macau satellites are venues controlled by independent investors, but respectively piggyback currently on the gaming licence of one of the existing concessionaires. The report did not mention whether hotel space available at most of the satellites would continue in operation.
Macao Daily News said – citing the sources – that factors that might prompt satellite casino closures included sustained losses and “heavy depletion” of cash flow amid the disruption to inbound tourism linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Other factors were uncertainty regarding when and how the mainland China authorities might ease outbound travel restrictions for mainland residents’ trips to Macau; and the new regulatory requirements mulled for Macau satellite casino operators as mentioned in the draft of the city’s gaming law amendment bill.
The draft bill – currently under review, with the final version due for approval by the Legislative Assembly in June – says satellites will still be permitted to run in the local market, but they will each be given a three-year grace period to tie the ownership of their gaming premises to any of the six concessionaires that will be permitted to serve the Macau market within the next decade.
The “start” of the three-year grace period for satellites will align with the start date of the city’s new gaming concessions, and the latter are due to be allocated after a fresh public tender.
The timing of the grace period was mentioned by Macau legislator Chan Chak Mo, in comments to the local media in early March. He cited an explanation provided by local-government officials consulting his Legislative Assembly committee tasked with scrutinising the gaming law amendment bill.
The current six Macau gaming concessionaires were due to see their licences expire on June 26. All of them confirmed to GGRAsia they had already applied to the Macau government for an extension until December 31 of their existing rights, as made feasible by the local authorities as the latter work to prepare for the new public tender for Macau gaming permits.
Currently, there are 18 operating satellite casinos in the city, with 14 of them tied to the gaming rights of concessionaire SJM Holdings Ltd. A further three are tied to Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. The other one is tied to Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
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