The head of Macau’s casino regulator says there will be no mushrooming of so-called satellite casinos – venues that rely on the gaming permit of one of the city’s six licensed operators but are managed by a third party – despite the recent opening of one such new-to-market property.
The regulator said that an important criterion when considering any such request was to ensure it did not expand the actual numbers of live-dealer gaming tables in the market. Macau has a policy of limiting expansion of new table numbers to 3 percent annual compound growth for a period of 10 years ending in 2022.
The Royal Dragon Casino was the latest satellite casino to emerge on the scene in the local market. The venue, located in downtown Macau, opened on September 27 under the licence of casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd.
Asked under what terms and conditions the new-to-market casino venue was allowed to operate, Paulo Martins Chan (pictured in a file photo), the director of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – a body also known by its Portuguese acronym DICJ – said on Tuesday that any request for a casino opening was assessed independently.
“We analyse each request on a case-by-case basis. The important aspect is to maintain the size of the Macau market in terms of gaming tables,” said the DICJ director on the sidelines of a public event. “This is the most important criteria,” he stated, adding that the opening of the latest satellite casino “did not increase the number of gaming tables in the market”.
The Royal Dragon Casino opened with 20 gaming tables that were relocated from elsewhere in Macau to the new venue, the city’s gaming regulator had previously confirmed to GGRAsia. The bureau didn’t clarify from where.
The casino at the new Macau Roosevelt Hotel in Taipa – effectively a “relocation” of Casino Macau Jockey Club according to the local gaming regulator – is another gaming venue using SJM Holdings’ licence. It started casino operations on June 29.
Another satellite venue that opened recently – albeit one long flagged in filings by Hong Kong-listed firm Macau Legend Development Ltd – is casino hotel Legend Palace at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. It opened on February 27 and also relies on the gaming licence of SJM Holdings.
In comments to reporters on Tuesday, the chief executive of SJM Holdings, Ambrose So She Fai, said that after the opening of the Grand Lisboa Palace in Cotai – expected for 2018 – the company had no plans to increase further the number of satellite casinos that make use of the its gaming licence.
Several commentators have told GGRAsia that not much has changed to make the satellite business proposition – typically involving a low-cost hotel venue with little in the way of non-gaming amenities, some VIP gambling and a modestly-sized mass gaming floor – any more attractive than it was during the recent downturn in Macau casino gross gaming revenue.
On Tuesday, Mr Chan noted that any new request for a casino would have to be analysed cautiously. He added that no gaming licence application has been made for a pending Macau hotel project known as The 13.
“Until now, we have not received any [casino] application for that venue,” said Mr Chan.
Hong Kong-listed The 13 Holdings Ltd – developer of The 13 Hotel – said last month it expects to open the Macau property “on or before” March 31, 2018, after securing new funding to complete the scheme. The promoter of the venue mentioned again its intention of having gaming operations at the property “as soon as practicable”.
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