The Macau government says it plans to have ready by next year a bill amending the city’s gaming law. The local authorities say such a review is a necessary step ahead of a public retender process for Macau gaming rights, linked to the expiry – in June 2022 – of Macau’s existing six gaming concessions.
Lei Wai Nong (pictured), Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance – the official in charge of the city’s casino industry – said on Thursday that the local government planned to submit the bill amending the city’s gaming law, also known as Law No. 16/2001, to the city’s Legislative Assembly for vote, sometime next year.
“The gaming law revision is on our schedule for next year,” he said.
Mr Lei also reiterated that the Macau government had no plans to delay the launch of a fresh public retender process for gaming rights prior to the expiry in 2022 of the current concessions for the city’s six casino operators. But he did not provide a timetable for the retender process.
Industry observers have commented that the Macau government could choose to delay the tender process, giving itself room to assess the recovery of the tourism sector in a post-Covid-19 environment and, if necessary, introduce new requirements to the public retender process.
Macau’s existing gaming law includes the option of extending beyond June 2022 – up to a maximum of five years – the present gaming permits of the current operators. The length of each eventual extension would be decided by an incumbent chief executive.
The Macau government had mentioned previously its intention to launch a public retender process for Macau gaming rights. But a review of the city’s existing gaming law – including a public consultation process – was also flagged as a necessary step ahead of any public retender process. The public consultation process has yet to be launched.
Some of the city’s legislators have questioned recently whether there was enough time available to complete such a legal review of the gaming law before mid-2022.
The next election for the city’s Legislative Assembly is likely to take place around September 2021. All the bills left pending in the legislature at the end of a legislative session are tossed out.
In April, JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd suggested that the revision of Macau’s gaming law might itself not be completed until 2022. The institution said it “wouldn’t be surprised” to see the casino rights retender process “postponed by a year or so versus the current expiry of June 2022”.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance