Former Macau legislator David Chow Kam Fai has exited the board of Macau Legend Development Ltd, a hotel and gaming services firm he helped found in 2006, and which he witnessed list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2013.
The company said in a Tuesday filing that after its annual general meeting that day, Mr Chow (pictured in a file photo) had retired as co-chairman and a non-executive director, “to focus on his other commitments”. His wife, Melinda Chan Mei Yi, remains chief executive of the company.
Earlier this month, Ms Chan had confirmed to GGRAsia that the group had stopped all casino promotion-related activities regarding its Macau Fisherman’s Wharf complex, near the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal.
Casino concession holder SJM Holdings Ltd – that already provided the licence for the site’s two “satellite” casinos, namely Legend Palace, a hotel with associated gaming operation; and the gaming-only venue Babylon – has now taken full control of both operations.
Macau Legend has been known as a promoter of some of Macau’s so-called satellite casinos, that respectively piggyback on the licence of one of the city’s concession holders. The firm has been associated also with the gaming operation at Landmark Casino, inside the New Orient Landmark Hotel, also on Macau peninsula.
The regulatory framework for the city’s satellite casinos is in flux. Some third-party promoters of satellites had in the past shared gaming revenue with their casino partner. Under a consolidating bill covering junkets and also satellite business – due to be passed this autumn – revenue sharing is to be prohibited, although there is a three-year grace period for investors to adjust to that and other new arrangements.
In April, in what was a rare public intervention in political matters by a Macau gaming entrepreneur, Mr Chow – often depicted as an outspoken and colourful businessman – called on the city’s government to “concentrate on the old industries and make them grow”. That was a reference for local authorities to promote the recovery of the city’s casino and tourism sectors, rather than to focus on economic diversification. The latter is a strong theme of Chinese central government policy for Macau.
If “Macau’s economy goes down, the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ also goes down,” Mr Chow had been cited in local media as saying at a public event.
He was referring to China’s policy of operating Macau and the other special administrative region, Hong Kong, on a twin-track approach of mainland and local administrative traditions, for a period of 50 years from the cities’ respective handover to China.
Aside from the slump in tourism, Macau Legend has recently been roiled by other events. Levo Chan Weng Lin, former boss of Macau junket brand Tak Chun and a former chief executive of Macau Legend, was detained in Macau in January, on suspicion of illegal running of gambling operations and money laundering. The allegations were understood to relate to his junket activities. Nonetheless, he resigned from his Macau Legend role soon after.
In May, Macau Legend announced that a review conducted by an independent consultant “did not note any irregularity” in the dealings between the company and Mr Chan.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Macau’s satellites were already modest businesses in terms of gambling volumes, relative to the self-promoted properties of the six gaming licensees.
The stop-start nature of Macau’s tourism market recovery, and the decline of Macau’s VIP gambling segment, had in April led Emperor Entertainment Hotel Ltd, promoter of a satellite gaming operation at its Grand Emperor Hotel, to suggest it would exit casino business. In June however, it emerged that its concession partner SJM Holdings was to take on the casino there, up to December 31, when Macau’s current licences expire.
Only two of Macau’s 18 satellite casinos – the Rio Casino and the President Casino – have so far closed amid changes to the city’s regulatory system for such properties.
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