The Macau government has said its proposed formal cap on the number of casino tables and gaming machines was aimed at better controlling the scale of the local casino market. The comments were made by government officials during a Monday meeting of a Legislative Assembly committee that is scrutinising the gaming law amendment bill.
Legislator Chan Chak Mo was briefing the local media after the committee he heads had met with government officials.
Some of the committee’s members had raised questions on how frequently the Macau government would review the gaming table and slot machine cap it is proposing as part of gaming law amendment bill. The draft law is to be approved ahead of a fresh public tender for Macau gaming rights.
According to the bill, a formal cap will be introduced on the number of casino tables and gaming machines, with details to be set out via a chief executive dispatch. The bill did not specify the frequency of such a dispatch.
The document also states that the city’s chief executive is to set a minimum amount of casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) that each table or machine should generate annually. If for two consecutive years such gaming inventory held by a concessionaire does not meet the annual GGR minimum decided by the government, then the incumbent secretary for economy and finance can take back the tables or machines.
Any addition or reduction in gaming inventory per casino must be approved by the secretary for economy and finance, including in the event of a new casino opening.
The bill says the incumbent secretary for economy and finance must consider with regard to gaming inventory: the overall economic situation of Macau; the “gaming industry development policy” stipulated by the city’s government; the “operation status of the gaming concessionaire”; the “overall investment” made by the gaming concessionaire, “including non-gaming elements”; and the “utilisation status of the gaming concessionaires’ gaming tables and machines”.
Mr Chan told reporters on Monday that government officials present at the meeting did not provide additional information regarding how regularly the cap on Macau’s gaming inventory would be reviewed.
The plan for such a cap was to better “control the scale” of Macau’s gaming sector, and to foster a “healthy development” of the industry, said Mr Chan citing the government delegates.
Monday’s meeting also touched on the topic of the ownership arrangement required for so-called “satellite” casinos in the city, under the new regulatory framework. As per the bill, the owners of satellite casinos will have a three-year grace period to tie the ownership of their respective gaming venues to one of the next generation of Macau gaming concessions. That will have to be done be selling – on a strata title basis or by floor space ratio – ownership of the physical gaming space to any of the Macau gaming concessionaires.
Such ownership has to be acquired directly by a Macau gaming concessionaire, not via “any wholly-owned subsidiary”, Mr Chan said, citing government representatives.
“This is healthy for the industry, and makes it better” for the government to supervise the industry, said the government officials, according to Mr Chan.
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