No Answer from Macau on License Concessions for Casino Operators

Macau skyline at dusk

Two casino operators in Macau could see their gaming licenses expire next year after regulators failed to give a concrete response when questioned about a possible renewal.

Two-year extension sought

The gaming concessions, held by SJM Holdings and MGM China Holdings, are due to end in March 2020.

According to a report from GGRAsia, Ambrose So Shu Fai, CEO of SJM Holdings, had indicated last year that the company intended to seek a two-year extension period, bringing it up to 2022, to compete “at the same pace” as the four other gaming operators in the autonomous region on the south coast of China.

Paulo Martins Chan, head of Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, skated around a question about whether the government would grant the request. In response, Chan said: “Regarding this issue, we’ve submitted the technical opinions on [the arrangement] of the six gaming concessions to our superiors. But we do not have any news to tell yet.”

When questioned further, he declined to give more details regarding the “technical opinions.”

In other news, Chan spoke about a draft amendment bill to tackle “unlawful deposits” to the city’s junket promoters, saying that the bill was “ready.” He went on to say: “The bill is now undergoing some adjustments. We hope that it will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly soon [for deliberation].”

First announced back in November, the bill would raise the capital deposit for any newly-registered licensed casino junkets to $1.23m (£966,000). Chan went on to note that the government is preparing to deal with unregulated capital deposits with “severe penalties.”

The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss plans for the Macau Jockey Club. It was reported in August that trouble was brewing for the club. At the time, the report noted that, even though it had been given a 24-month extension in February, it had significantly reduced its investment proposals.

The report also said that the government had told the committee that the Jockey Club would put in $185.7m (£145.8m) in three stages to improve facilities and activities. However, no details were offered. It seems that more questions need to be answered before the fate of the club is decided.

Other news from Macau

Last month, it was reported that casino workers in the region were banned from entering or remaining in casino facilities outside of their working hours. The Macau Legislative Assembly amended Law No.10/2012 prohibits employees who handle betting machines, cashiers, workers who sell food and drink, and security guards, from entering the casino buildings when they are off duty.

It was also noted that Chan will hire staff members to ensure that casinos are complying with the new rule. Casino operators will be asked to assist with monitoring and to report any violations.

In October, it was announced that a blockchain casino is to be created in Macau. It would be the “world’s first blockchain-based casino gaming hub with fully integrated online and land-based casinos.” DeClub, a casino management company located in Macau, is teaming up with Wide Rich Global, a Malta-based investment firm, to introduce the casino.

An initial coin offering (ICO) has been launched to pay for construction. The team estimates that it will need to raise as much as $1bn (£785,000) for the project to go ahead.

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