The Macau gaming regulator has ordered Macao (Yut Yuen) Canidrome Co Ltd to relocate its greyhound racing track or shut down operations, within two years.
The firm’s current stadium – known as the Macau Canidrome – is located in the northern area of the Macau peninsula, in a densely populated district.
A press release issued on Thursday by the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau stated the instruction to move or close followed an “exhaustive analysis” of the impact of the Canidrome in helping to “diversify the city’s gaming industry” and “position Macau as a world centre of tourism and leisure”. The instruction also took into consideration “social expectations”, stated the release, without elaborating.
Lionel Leong Vai Tac, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, said separately on the sidelines of a public event in Macau on Thursday that the government would explore the alternative uses for the current Canidrome site.
The gaming bureau press release on the issue followed a meeting the same day between Paulo Martins Chan (pictured, right), head of the gaming bureau, and the management of Yut Yuen (pictured, left).
Gross gaming revenue from greyhound racing betting in Macau declined 13.8 percent year-on-year in 2015. The annual tally was MOP125 million (US$15.6 million), compared to MOP145 million in 2014. Yut Yuen is the sole operator of greyhound racing betting in Macau.
Such betting accounts for a tiny portion of overall gaming revenue in Macau: the city’s casino sector generates much more gross revenue in a day that Yut Yuen does in an entire year.
Yut Yuen is part of the business empire built by casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun, founder of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd. Angela Leong On Kei (pictured, centre), fourth consort of Mr Ho, currently heads the firm. She is also an executive director of SJM Holdings.
As quoted in the gaming bureau’s press release, Ms Leong said Yut Yuen would decide whether to move its track or to shut down operations within the deadline set by the government.
Yut Yuen has been under pressure in business terms and in public relations terms for several years: animal right activists have accused the firm of killing annually hundreds of healthy greyhounds for commercial reasons, allegedly when dogs fail to meet the company’s performance standards.
The gaming bureau’s Thursday press release stated that if Yut Yuen were to relocate its track, the firm would have to improve its animal care standards.
Last year, the Macau government commissioned the Institute for the Study of Commercial Gaming at the University of Macau to study the impact of greyhound racing betting in the city. The findings of the study – which were never made public – were used as the basis of the gaming bureau’s decision regarding Yut Yuen’s operations, the regulator stated in its press release.
(Updated at 3.48pm, July 22)
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