Casino operators request more info on Macau gaming law changes

A public consultation on the revision of the city’s gaming law started on September 15.
A public consultation on the revision of the city’s gaming law started on September 15.

Macau’s six casino operators have attended a public consultation session and asked for more information on the government’s proposed changes to the current city’s gaming laws.

Macau.- Representatives of Macau’s casino operators attended a public consultation session with authorities on the revision of the city’s gaming law.

According to local media reports, SJM Holdings Ltd, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and Wynn Macau Ltd expressed concerns about the idea of raising the minimum share capital required for the gaming companies.

Casino operators also said the government should give more details on the proposal that gaming concessionaires should be part held by a Macau resident.

Buddy Lam Chi Seng, Galaxy Entertainment senior vice president of public relations, asked if the possibility of electing “delegates” to Macau’s gaming concessions to have a “greater checking” limit on the activity of the gaming firms could have a potential impact on gaming firms’ daily operations.

Ku Mei Leng, chief-of-office of Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance, answered that the public authority didn’t have any “predetermined positions” on the themes, as it was still collecting opinions from the industry regarding the proposed changes.

He noted that a delegate system is already used to monitor other forms of public concession. According to previous reports, government delegates would be sent to gaming concessionaires to enable the direct monitoring of daily operations.

Linda Chen, vice-chairman and chief operating officer of Wynn Macau Ltd, claimed further guidance on the suggestion that administrators should meet certain requirements and get government endorsement before distributing profits, regardless of whether it be in cash or shares.

Chen said: “As long as the regulatory aspect as defined in this legal framework is transparent, it will be positive and good for our industry’s long-term development.”

Several junket operators and respective trade associations also attended the consultation and asked the authorities to clarify what actions would constitute the crime of illegally accepting funds. 

The recommended penalty for this type of crime is up to five years in prison or a fine. However, the government representatives present did not specifically respond to the junkets’ inquiries.

Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, CEO of Suncity, has recently said he has no fears for now about the proposed changes to Macau’s gaming laws, which aim to strengthen screening of the “suitability” of junkets.

Cheok Wa said in an interview to the Hong Kong Economic Journal: “It is not to completely bar the patrons’ capital from coming here: if the patrons don’t pay us, how are we to purchase gaming chips on their behalf?”

He added: “The government is not aiming to trivialise or drive out the junket sector, but to regulate the sector so that it would not hurt Macau’s reputation.”

The consultation will run until October 29, and authorities expect to finish the amendment of the gaming law by the final quarter this year before presenting a draft bill to the Legislative Assembly. 

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