Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac (pictured), says the city’s government is keeping a close watch on the casino legalisation process in Japan. He added that the local authorities are also assessing how to ensure Macau’s gaming industry remains competitive against potential new competition from Japan.
“We understand that they [Japan] have approved this [casino enabling] bill. But regarding details – including the taxation system and the schedule [for the opening of casinos there] – we still need to follow this up,” Mr Leong told local media on the sidelines of a public event on Thursday.
“For Macau to move forward – especially considering our current gaming [concession] contracts will expire [on various dates between 2020 and 2022] – we have to assess how to ensure we [gaming industry] remain competitive internationally,” the official added.
The Macau government is yet to give indications regarding the likelihood or otherwise of Macau’s existing concession holders having their gaming rights refreshed when the current contracts expire. Several Macau casino operators – or their parent companies – have previously expressed interest in investing in Japan.
The upper house of Japan’s parliament – a body also known as the Diet – approved on Wednesday a bill to legalise in principle casino gambling in the country. The bill was approved by the plenary session of the upper house with the backing of the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and a conservative opposition party.
The bill now approved by the upper house legalises casino gambling in “integrated resorts” that include hotels and entertainment facilities. Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After the enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation – known as the implementation bill – would detail the specifics: how casinos are administered and regulated; the taxation regime to be applied to them; their location; and the number of licences to be issued.
Japan’s first casino should only open doors in 2023 at the earliest, brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd suggested in a report released on December 2. The estimate included the time needed to pass the implementation bill, the ensuing process to select the casino operators and the casino development period.
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SuzoHapp's managing director for Asia Pacific