A senior executive at Hong Kong-listed Macau Legend Development Ltd said on Thursday that the casino services and hotel operations firm is still aiming at being a Macau gaming concessionaire in its own right, following the government’s announcement of a bill to revamp the local gaming industry.
Macau Legend will “certainly try” to get a casino gaming licence if the Macau government “provides opportunities” for local companies to join the expected tender process for fresh licences, executive director Melinda Chan Mei Yi (pictured in a file photo) told reporters.
Ms Chan pointed out that one of the proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming legislation was to include in the legal framework the need for casino concessionaires to safeguard national security. The executive said she expected that – beyond economic criteria – local authorities would support Macau-based “patriotic” firms as part of the overall revamp of Macau’s gaming sector.
Macau Legend’s assets include several Macau casino venues – some with hotel space – run under so-called services agreements with Macau casino licensee SJM Holdings Ltd. The firm also controls Macau Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Macau government announced on January 14 the outline of a bill to provide a new regulatory framework for the city’s casino industry. The bill is due to have a first reading and first vote in Macau’s Legislative Assembly on Monday (January 24).
The current six concessions are due to expire in June this year, and the city’s government has said the new law must be in place before a fresh public tender for gaming concessions can be held.
The government-backed bill proposes significant changes for Macau casinos operating under so-called services agreements. Such properties are locally known as ‘satellite’ casinos and are run by third parties, making use of deals made with any one of the existing six licensed gaming concessionaires.
The city’s satellite casinos will, under the proposed bill, have a three-year grace period to tie the ownership of the premises to any one of six gaming concessionaires that will be permitted in the Macau market. Currently, there are 18 satellite casinos in the city: 14 use SJM Holdings’ rights; three use Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s rights; and one uses Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd’s licence.
Macau Legend is one of the largest operators of satellite casinos.
Commenting on the proposed changes for satellite casinos, Ms Chan highlighted the track record of these venues in terms of positive contribution to the local economy, through employment and business ties with small- and medium-sized enterprises. She pointed out that the potential shutdown of satellite casinos could hurt the livelihoods of many Macau residents.
Ms Chan, a former Macau lawmaker, said she believed the Macau government and members of the Legislative Assembly would take into account the local relevance of satellite casinos when assessing the bill on the gaming law.
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