Macau’s Legislative Assembly (pictured) is expected to give a final reading to the gaming law amendment bill by June 26 this year, also the date of the expiry of the city’s six gaming concessions, noted on Monday, legislator Chan Chak Mo, the head of an assembly committee tasked with examining the bill. If so, the government might be able – on a concurrent basis – to start the documentation work required for the gaming-concession retender process.
Mr Chan said so to the local press, following the sub-committee’s first meeting to review the gaming law amendment bill, held behind closed doors with legal consultants from the assembly.
Several legislators that are not part of the sub-committee – including Angela Leong On Kei, co-chairperson and executive director of incumbent operator SJM Holdings Ltd – were permitted to be observers at the Monday meeting.
Mr Chan said Monday’s discussion focused on the bill’s proposed articles on the suitability requirements for the “managing director” of a gaming concession entity; and the government-proposed recognition of a “management company” entity that would be responsible for managing all or part of a casino of a gaming concessionaire. Historically, the concept of a management company has encompassed management services for functions at so-called satellite casinos.
The bill has proposed that the managing director of a gaming concession – who has to be a Macau permanent resident – would need to hold at least 15 percent of the concession entity’s share capital. The requirement under the current gaming law framework is they should hold 10 percent.
Other government suggestions in the bill include the need to increase the minimum share capital requirement for any local casino concessionaire to MOP5 billion (US$625 million) from the existing MOP200-million threshold.
“That means the managing director [of a gaming concessionaire] has to have MOP750 million [in share capital] ready… so there are questions on who in Macau has that financial capacity,” Mr Chan told reporters.
Legislators would like to understand the government’s rationale on the new share-capital requirement for a gaming concession’s managing director, Mr Chan added. “With this proposal, there are questions on whether [it] really helps Macau locals to have a bigger say in the city’s gaming industry development,” he said.
Monday’s discussions also covered whether the managing director of a Macau gaming concession would be permitted to “possess dual nationality” or whether there would need to be a test of whether they were “patriotic” – a reference to their attitude to the Chinese motherland – in addition to their experience in the industry or their academic background, Mr Chan said.
The sustainability of the city’s existing satellite casinos had also been a topic that prompted “much debate” during the Monday meeting, added Mr Chan.
The bill proposed that satellite gaming venues will be given a three-year grace period to tie ownership of their premises directly to a gaming concessionaire.
Concerns raised included how many satellites would be able to achieve such a step, and what impact the rule might have on local employment at satellites, Mr Chan said.
The sub-committee discussion continues this week.
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