Macau businessman and former legislator Chan Meng Kam (pictured) hopes locals can “participate” in the process of deciding future gaming rights for the Macau market prior to the expiry, on various dates in either 2020 or 2022, of the six current licences.
“I know many people are paying attention to the gaming licence issue. As someone from Macau, I hope that Macau people can be allowed to participate in it [bidding],” Mr Chan remarked to reporters on Wednesday. He did not directly address reporters’ questions regarding whether he would strive to acquire a standalone licence, if the Macau government were to entertain proposals from companies other than the six incumbents. According to the current legal framework, a new public tender process should occur at the expiry of the current casino concession rights.
He made the remarks in Beijing on the sidelines of an annual gathering of the Chinese government top advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Mr Chan, a veteran businessman and former Macau legislator, is chairman of privately-held Golden Dragon Co Ltd, which runs three casinos in Macau: Casino Golden Dragon and Casino Royal Dragon on Macau peninsula – both via the licence of incumbent operator SJM Holdings Ltd; and Casino Taipa Square on Taipa, making use of the casino licence of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd. Casino Royal Dragon opened to the public on September 27. Venues controlled by third parties that rely on the gaming licence and table inventory of one of Macau’s six operators – via what is known locally as a service agreement – are also commonly referred to as “satellite” casinos.
Mr Chan also recently acquired from Hong Kong-listed China Star Entertainment Ltd another satellite venue, the Lan Kwai Fong casino hotel property, which utilises SJM Holdings’ gaming rights. The transaction was finalised in January.
Mr Chan is currently a member of the Executive Council, the Macau government’s advisory body.
There has lately been a number of public remarks by investors linked to satellite venues, calling for greater recognition of local business interests in the Macau gaming sector post 2020 and 2022.
David Chow Kam Fai, also a Chinese People’s Political Conference member, said Macau should consider accommodating two to three more gaming concessionaires. Mr Chow, the co-chairman and chief executive of Hong Kong-listed casino services firm Macau Legend Development Ltd, said that if new gaming licences were to be issued, his company would “fight” to get one.
The firm currently runs three casinos in Macau: Babylon Casino and Legend Palace, both at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf; and Pharaoh’s Palace Casino at the Landmark Macau. All the properties are located on Macau peninsula and are operated under the casino licence of SJM Holdings.
In other commentary, Hoffman Ma Ho Man, executive director and deputy chairman of Success Universe Group Ltd, told GGRAsia that Macau should end the government concession system for gaming and move to licensing by venue. Success Universe is an investor in the Ponte 16 casino hotel on Macau peninsula. The hotel’s casino is operated under the gaming concession of SJM Holdings.
The Macau government has commissioned two studies on the possible development of the city’s gaming sector in the period between 2020 and 2030. The studies are to explore – among other things – how many gaming licences might be issued once the concessions of the six current Macau operators expire.
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”Ramp ups [of new Macau casinos] are taking a little bit longer. The market is somewhat volatile at the moment, but we continue to look at all the opportunities and are still very comfortable that things are starting to move ahead”
Chief executive of MGM China Holdings