Macau casino concessionaires could in future be fined up to MOP5 million (US$620,400) if they fail to inform an incumbent Macau chief executive about any “major financial decision” that carried a value “higher than” the total investment input already pledged in their applicable concession contracts, according to the draft bill on the city’s gaming law amendment.
The information was shared with the media on Tuesday by local legislator Chan Chak Mo, who heads a Legislative Assembly committee scrutinising the draft bill.
GGRAsia asked Mr Chan at that occasion – just after a closed-doors meeting at the assembly building, between the committee and government officials – whether such an obligation to inform a chief executive would cover any wish by a concessionaire to pay a dividend to shareholders. Mr Chan said the government had not mentioned that issue in this particular context.
The issue of prior government permission being required for payment of dividends attracted much public interest when it was first mentioned in September, in a summary of the new law’s proposals.
The reporting requirement on any “major financial decision” is under an article on concessionaires’ duties, forming part of the proposed new law.
The lower end of the fine for any non-compliance would be MOP2 million.
The definition of a “major financial decision” could vary from concessionaire to concessionaire, depending on the respective corporate scale of a concessionaire and the stage of its investment in Macau, Mr Chan said.
“There is not exactly a hard set figure [in the draft bill],” that defines a “major financial decision”, the legislator stated.
The purpose of the condition was for the local government to assess whether Macau gaming concessionaires respectively had the capacity to realise their financial commitments, Mr Chan further noted to local media, citing the government’s explanation.
“The government does not mean to interfere in any normal course of business,” Mr Chan added, citing the government’s remarks made in the Tuesday meeting with the legislators on the committee looking at the bill.
The Macau gaming concessionaires will also be subject to a review by the city’s casino regulator, Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, every three years, the draft bill states. The three-year review aims to examine the operators’ “contractual compliance in general”.
The draft law specifies that the number of gaming licences would be capped at six, with a lifespan of up to 10 years.
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