Pansy Ho Chiu King, co-chairperson and executive director of Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd, says the city’s six gaming concessionaires should remain in the market amid the process of refreshment of the existing gaming licences.
Ms Ho (pictured in a file photo) said in an interview with Portuguese news agency Lusa that the process of refreshment of Macau’s casino licences should relate to the needs of the market, rather than discussion getting “stuck on the number” of licensees. Analysts covering Macau’s casino sector have flagged the possibility of the local government increasing the number of licences in the market.
The gaming concessions held by the six current casino operators in Macau are due to expire in June 2022. Investment analysts expect some clarity regarding the Macau gaming concessions refreshment by 2022, either in the form of a public tender or an extension of the existing licences. Macau’s government has the option – under the current legal framework for gaming in the city – of rolling over the existing permits for a maximum of five years, once they reach a 20-year limit.
Two of the operators, SJM Holdings Ltd and MGM China, have already had their original 2020 deadlines extended for two years each, to put them on the same June 2022 finishing line as the other four. SJM Holdings’ and MGM China’s original licences were valid for 18 years.
Ms Ho is also group executive chairman of Hong Kong-listed shipping and property conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings Ltd. She is a daughter of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun, the founder of both Hong Kong-listed SJM Holdings and privately-owned Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA (STDM).
Ms Ho and the Henry Fok Foundation announced in January an agreement to ensure a common position regarding the future of STDM, the controlling shareholder of SJM Holdings.
In her comments to Lusa, Ms Ho said companies that have invested a great amount of resources since the liberalisation of Macau’s gaming market and that have accumulated experience over the years, should remain in the market.
“Otherwise, it’s an abrupt stop,” said Ms Ho, adding that she did not believe that any newcomers would immediately do better. “We should not be chasing up a number, but the desired effect,” she stated.
The executive said additionally that she did not believe that companies controlled by United States-based groups would be threatened by the trade war between the U.S. and China.
Ms Ho said she did not expect “prejudice” against any bidder that fulfils the goals required for the development of Macau, “whether they are Americans or locals”.
“I would expect that there might be some clearly-defined criteria … and I’m supportive of a more clearly-defined roadmap for the industry,” Ms Ho told Lusa.
MGM China’s Macau gaming permit stems from a sub-concession spun off from the rights of SJM Holdings. Ms Ho holds a 22.49-percent stake in MGM China. She also controls a 4.8 percent in MGM Resorts, the parent company of MGM China.
The businesswoman also spoke about the alliance that now holds a majority stake in STDM.
“In the past, the existing structure was not conducive to an effective management [of SJM Holdings], and that’s why we need to be prepared,” said Ms Ho, referring to the refreshment of the city’s gaming concessions.
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