According to a report from GGRAsia, the legislation tabled last Tuesday is to have its official first reading on January 24 before being sent to a sub-committee for discussions on potential alterations or additions. The source detailed that this process will subsequently be followed by second and final reading before the 33-member body in advance of debate and a concluding vote.
Andre Cheong Weng Chon serves as the Administration and Justice Secretary for Macau and he reportedly disclosed that this whole process may not be completed ahead of the expiration on June 26 of the current licenses held by the city’s six-strong club of casino concessionaires. However, he purportedly also explained that the government of Chief Executive Ho Iat-Seng would be prepared to consider short extensions should legislators fail to ratify the legislation ahead of this deadline.
Macau has reportedly been endeavoring to update its existing rules on gaming for a number of years although the current draft gaming bill proposes keeping an existing cap of six with regards to the number of firms who are to be allowed to operate local casinos. This club purportedly presently embraces SJM Holdings Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, MGM China Holdings Limited and the local Sands China Limited and Wynn Macau Limited subordinates of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts Limited respectively.
GGRAsia reported that it is widely believed that Macau will allow every one of its current casino concessionaires to extend their existing licenses by a further ten years to June of 2032 following the completion of a fresh tendering process. However, the draft gaming bill purportedly calls for their minimum capital requirements to be increased from about $25 million to approximately $623 million while keeping the firms’ effective tax rate at around 39%.
Another change reportedly included in the draft gaming bill would effectively abolish satellite casinos and sub-concessions by obliging all gambling operators to conduct business out of premises owned by one of the six concessionaires. The draft legislation moreover purportedly calls on licensees to be subjected to official reviews three times a year and be forbidden from inking profit-sharing deals with junket firms and outside management companies.
Finally, the legislation will reportedly furthermore seek to institute a regime to tie the taxes paid by local casinos to pre-set annual gross gaming revenue targets. Operators could then purportedly be required to pay a fine of any difference between their actual and expected tax bills and even have some of their games compliment taken away if they are unlucky enough to have missed this mark for two consecutive years.