Macau publishes draft gaming law bill ahead of licence rebidding

Macau is the world's biggest gambling hub in terms of money wagered.
PHOTO: Reuters

HONG KONG - Macau's Legislative Assembly published the draft of a highly anticipated gaming law bill on Tuesday (Jan 18), providing further details for multibillion-dollar casino operators in the world's biggest gambling hub.

The 44-page document — published in Chinese and Portuguese — comes after the government announced on Friday that the number of new licences would be capped at six and the licence term halved to 10 years.

The draft law has been long awaited by casino executives, investors and analysts.

The licences of the six operators, Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resorts, are all due to expire in June this year.

The government has said all existing or potential operators need to apply through a new tender process. It did not detail when operators will have to bid or whether the current licence term will be extended, according to a notice posted on its website.

The former Portuguese colony is the world's biggest gambling hub in terms of money wagered.

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The document detailed what would be expected of new licensees, including support for local small and medium-sized companies, activities of "public interest" and support for fields including science and the environment.

The bill gave further clarity on Macau's junket operators, middle men who have been tasked with bringing in high rollers from mainland China.

If approved, casino operators would no longer have dedicated junket rooms, and revenue sharing arrangements between the two parties would be prohibited.

Macau will continue to issue junket licenses to approved VIP promoters but will restrict them to only operating in one concessionaire.

Previously, Macau junkets were allowed to operate in all operators with multiple rooms. This is likely to further dilute their influence.