Feb 09, 2023 Newsdesk Latest News, Macau, Top of the deck
Consecutive visits to Cotai casino resorts in the space of a fortnight by top Macau officials, highlight the local government’s close monitoring of non-gaming development pledges made recently by the six gaming concessionaires in order to secure new 10-year casino rights, two local scholars have remarked to GGRAsia.
“These visits signify that the Macau SAR government will continue to pay close attention to the progress of the integrated resorts regarding their development of the non-gaming facilities and attractions,” in order to secure “Macau’s success as a world-class casino tourism destination, or in the official term, the ‘world-class tourism and leisure centre’,” said Ricardo Siu Chi Sen, associate professor in business economics at the University of Macau.
The local authorities’ policy focus currently is to reduce the local casino industry’s reliance on high-stakes gambling, by having more non-gaming offers and facilities, and to apply the principle of economic diversification to the wider local economy.
The most recent site visit was on February 4, when André Cheong Weng Chon, Macau’s Secretary for Administration and Justice, accompanied the city’s Executive Council – an advisory body to the government – on a tour of existing non-gaming facilities at Cotai venues respectively run by the six Macau concessionaires. Mr Cheong is also spokesperson for the Executive Council.
That tour took in MGM Cotai, City of Dreams Macau, Wynn Palace, Grand Lisboa Palace, the Venetian Macao (pictured above), and Galaxy Macau.
At the earlier tour on January 25 – coinciding with the period of the Chinese New Year holidays in the mainland – Macau’s Chief Executive, Ho Iat Seng (pictured below, second right) was also present, along with Lei Wai Nong (below, fourth right), Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, who oversees the city’s gaming regulator and Macau’s tourism authority.
The oversight for gaming-related affairs – which used to be the domain of Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance prior to the new concession period that began on January 1 – appears to be shared now within the city’s administrative framework, suggested Eilo Yu Wing Yat, a University of Macau public administration scholar, in comments to GGRAsia.
“The Executive Council is playing a role here, in trying to understand the non-gaming developments of Macau’s leading sector,” remarked Mr Yu commenting on the site visits made by its members. The Executive Council is a body responsible for advising a Macau chief executive on decision-making, and on proposed laws. An incumbent chief executive appoints all of the Executive Council members.
Mr Yu stated: “It is worthwhile to observe whether, in the near future, we will see more involvement of the government bodies, other than the economy and finance office, for the oversight and governorship of the gaming industry.”
Under the new concession arrangements, each of Macau’s six casino operators has to deliver by the end of September every year their planned investment and implementation plan for non-gaming for the next calendar year, Secretary Cheong had mentioned in comments on December 16. Mr Cheong – who also headed the committee for the gaming concessions public tender – made the remarks in a press briefing following the signing of the new concession contracts of the operators.
In other developments, Chui Hou In has been confirmed as a deputy director at Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. Mr Chui was most recently an advisor to the Office of the Secretary for Economy and Finance – a post he had held since 2020. Mr Chui had also been part of the campaign team for Mr Ho, when he offered himself for the chief executive role at an election in 2019.
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