Macau’s so-called “satellite” casinos – venues controlled by independent investors, but which have piggybacked on the gaming licence of one of the existing concessionaires – will under the city’s new regulatory framework for gaming, have a three-year grace period to create much closer ties to any one of six concessions to be granted in future, it was revealed on Friday.
A summary of the bill for the new framework was detailed on Friday. It says any casino operating in Macau will have to be established in an asset that is owned by a gaming concessionaire.
“So, with this bill… gaming concessionaires… have a three-year grace period to deal with this [ownership] issue, which is a reasonable time frame.” said André Cheong Weng Chon, spokesperson for Macau’s Executive Council, at a briefing on the bill.
“In our existing laws, we do not really have the [legal] concept of a… satellite [gaming] venue, which is, in effect, a casino within a hotel, and the ownership of this kind of property is not in the hands of the [gaming] concessionaire,” said Mr Cheong, who is also Macau’s Secretary for Administration and Justice.
Currently, there are 18 satellite casinos in the city. Most presently make use of the gaming rights of an incumbent concessionaire, SJM Holdings Ltd.
Macau’s six existing licences are due to expire in June. The Macau government has said there needs to be a new regulatory framework in place, before a fresh public tender can occur. In the next round of licensing, up to six permits will be allowed, of up to 10 years in duration, although the government has said an extension of up to 3 years might be permitted under certain circumstances.
The gaming bill also addresses fresh regulation for the city’s VIP gaming promoters, also known as junkets, as well as their collaborators, said Mr Cheong.
“For instance, there will be an explicit ban made against the sharing of casino revenue – in any form or agreement – between VIP gaming promoters and the [gaming] concessionaires,” Mr Cheong stated.
There would also be an explicit “ban” on contracting a gaming zone “within a casino” for the use of VIP gaming promoters.
Regulations and licensing requirements for junkets would be formed via a piece of law, rather than via administrative regulation, added Mr Cheong.
Some of the city’s current casino operators had confirmed to GGRAsia in late December that they had terminated partnerships with their existing Macau-licensed junket promoters.
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