A Macau government official confirmed on Wednesday that the city had received requests for “operational adjustment” regarding “a few” so-called satellite casinos.
The comment was in response to a media question about satellites exiting the Macau market, though Lei Wai Nong (pictured in a file photo), Secretary for Economy and Finance, declined – when asked – to say how many venues were involved.
Mr Lei was speaking to local media on the sidelines of an event that day. He stated that requests to discontinue satellite casino business were based on “commercial” considerations of investors, and were not related to the government’s planned regulatory changes as drafted in the gaming law amendment bill.
Satellites are venues that piggyback on the respective gaming licences of Macau concessionaires: 14 of the existing 18 operating satellite casinos use SJM Holdings Ltd’s licence; three are using Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s rights; and one is utilising Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd’s licence.
Mr Lei said in his Wednesday remarks, the government hoped the city’s satellite gaming venues would be able to “stay in business”, so they could continue to contribute to Macau’s “economic vitality”. But the official also stressed the government “would not interfere in any commercial decision-making” made by those venues’ respective operators, should they choose to cease their gaming business.
In the latest version of the gaming law amendment – expected to undergo a final reading this month at the city’s Legislative Assembly – the government scrapped a prior proposal that the city’s satellite casino promoters should tie the ownership of their respective gaming floors to one of the next generation of gaming concessions.
Nonetheless, the planned legal update mandates that third-party entities in the form of “management companies” would be the designated runners of such satellite venues, and that they would not be able to share “revenue” from gaming operations. The permitted economic model for such a management arrangement is still to be clarified. Nonetheless, a three-year grace period for the switch to a management-company arrangeent will be permitted.
The backer of one satellite casino – located inside the Grand Emperor Hotel and run under SJM Holdings’ licence – had already said in early April it would cease casino business on June 26. Such was a decision was due. said the promoter Emperor Entertainment Hotel Ltd, to the “gloomy outlook of the high-end gaming segment”. Another factor was the “tough business operating environment arising from the Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years”.
(Updated June 8, 2.33pm)
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