Most opinions collected during a 45-day public consultation process regarding Macau’s draft proposals for amendments to the city’s gaming law, suggest the city should stick at six the number of casino operators in the market. The largest portion of the opinions agreed with the local government’s proposal to scrap a current arrangement that has permitted casino sub-concessions.
The data are in a summary report on the public consultation phase, published on Thursday by the Macau government. The local authorities have said previously that there will be a new public tender process associated to the expiry of the current six licences in 2022, but Macau’s gaming law is due to be amended prior to such a process.
The government is now expected to submit a revised bill to the city’s Legislative Assembly, paving the way for a public tender process to take place next year.
The consultation results had an aggregate of 1,340 opinions, with comments on the number of gaming concessions in Macau representing the highest single cohort of responses, at 16.2 percent. The next most popular topics in terms of public feedback were opinions on a proposed firming of legal requirements concerning oversight of gaming concessionaires, and guarantees for workers.
“Most opinions expressed that the number of concessions should remain at six, with the explicit stipulation of prohibiting sub-concessions,” stated the document, adding that such number of licences would help “ensure social stability and guarantee employment.”
Regarding the concession term, there was a total of 171 opinions, of which the majority proposed such period should be “fewer than 20 years”.
In its analysis in the report, the government said the shortening of the concession period would allow it “more opportunities” to make the necessary adjustments to the gaming sector, “in order to ensure the sector’s competitiveness.”
It added that when setting the concession period, a “balance of various aspects must be taken into account,” namely the stability of the employment market and the necessary time regarding return on investment for investors.
As part of the gaming law revision, the Macau government proposed its approval should be required before local casino operators could distribute dividends to shareholders. There were 46 opinions regarding this matter, with most in “disagreement” with the government’s proposal.
According to the report, most of those particular responses considered that “limiting the distribution of profits violates the principle of a free market,” and would create uncertainty for casino operators.
The government said its intention was to ensure that these companies had “sufficient financial capacity” to comply with their respective “legal and contractual obligations,” before distributing profits to shareholders. The government added that it would “consider the concerns and suggestions” collected via the public consultation when drafting the amendments to the gaming law.
Regarding the proposal for the introduction of government-appointed representatives to oversee how gaming operators fulfil their concession duties, fewer than 50 percent of the opinions on the topic agreed with such suggestion.
The government said it would take into consideration the need to “balance the various interests and factors” in order to strengthen oversight of the casino operators, “without affecting the objective of … increasing the competitiveness of the gaming sector.”
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