Macau Caps Casino Tables Amid License Bidding Process

  • The six licensed local casinos are all bidding for new licenses
  • Casinos brought in $36bn in revenue in 2019 but have struggled to rebound from the pandemic
  • Parlors will have minimum incomes for their tables and machines
  • The government’s plan, in its eyes, is to help ensure growth
Casino Lisboa in Macau
Macau is setting maximums on casino gaming offerings and minimum income requirements to help rebound from the effects of the pandemic. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

New impositions

Macau has set a limit of 6,000 gaming tables and 12,000 gaming machines alongside minimum income requirements for new casinos next year, per the local government.

had not imposed such restrictions in the past, but is looking to increase its authority over casinos

The south Chinese gambling center had not imposed such restrictions in the past, but is looking to increase its authority over casinos. The region’s six licensed operators – Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, SJM Holdings, and Melco Resorts – are also on expiring licenses and will have to reapply.

Macau-based casinos raked in $36bn in revenue in 2019 before the first wave of COVID-19 hit. The area has struggled to recover since and now it will have an even shorter leash.

Minimums and maximums

Bidding for new licenses began in late July and will run until September 14. Even with travel restrictions imposed by the Chinese government and suffering VIP services, Macau remains positioned to have a strong recovery, according to experts from Morgan Stanley.

Macau’s government expects the new regulations to play a key role in shaping the future of local gambling.

“The new gaming operation from early next year will … cap the total amount of all gaming tables and gaming machines to ensure orderly and healthy development,” the government said in a statement on its website.

Licensed gambling parlors will have to turn seven million patacas ($865,969) in income for each of their allotted gaming tables. Each gaming machine will mandate 300,000 patacas ($37,113) in income.

Minimum income for tables and machines guarantees the government will receive a healthy amount of tax funding. Operators will have to make up for any shortfalls should they fail to meet the minimum requirement. The government hopes the rules will force the companies to make good use of their amenities.

In 2012, the government set a cap on table games that led to a 3% in growth of offerings at casinos.

Macau struggling to rebound

Macau had 6,198 gaming tables and 11,758 machines in operation at the end of 2021. Notably, the number of tables was down from 6,739 in pre-pandemic 2019.

Local casinos are also still not in a strong position in the local or worldwide market. Spikes in positive COVID-19 cases forced a recent 12-day closure for all casinos, and although they have reopened since, they are still not enjoying substantial patronage due to other limiting factors.

Macau casinos are burning through an estimated $600m per month

Whether the government’s plan to cultivate growth will work or not remains to be seen, but all interested parties will be hoping for the best. Other gambling hubs, most notably Las Vegas, are already posting strong financial results, while Macau casinos are burning through an estimated $600m per month. In addition, Macau’s gaming offerings are not expected to turn any profit for at least a few months, if not longer.

Macau’s 2022 revenue is down over 53% from this time last year. Furthermore, it is only enjoying 15.3% of its pre-pandemic traffic.