Macau aims to safeguard national security under new gambling law, analysts say

A first-reading debate and vote on the gaming law amendment bill will be held on January 24.
A first-reading debate and vote on the gaming law amendment bill will be held on January 24.

Security consultancy firm Steve Vickers & Associates says the main objective of Macau’s gaming law amendment bill is to safeguard national security.

Macau.- Analysts believe the inclusion of national security provisions in Macau’s gaming law amendment bill could represent Beijing’s concerns about capital outflows. According to the bill submitted to the Legislative Council, maintaining national security is one of its main purposes along with promoting Macau’s economic diversification and urban sustainable development.

The bill provides that the Macau government has the right to terminate the contract of the concessionaire for reasons such as threats to national security, public interest or breach of contractual obligations.

Security consultancy Steve Vickers & Associates says this change indicates that the “primary factor” that Chinese and Macau authorities will consider when evaluating concession updates and regulations is to be “obviously national security.”

A controversial suggestion that gaming operators should seek government approval to distribute dividends to their shareholders hasn’t made it to the bill after attracting criticism during the consultation phase. The The draft bill now states that operators have to inform the authorities before making “any material financial decision”.

For Vickers, however, the Macau government could still take action on dividend payments deemed exorbitant, especially if severe capital outflows from mainland China raise “national security concerns for Beijing”.

Meanwhile, the new gaming bill will allow junket operators to each provide services to only one casino operator.

André Cheong Weng Chon, Executive Council spokesperson, said the bill would ban junkets from engaging in revenue-sharing arrangements with casino operators and from operating certain areas or facilities in casino venues.

It’s also emerged that Macau casino operators will have to seek permission from the Macau SAR’s chief executive for permission to operate in other jurisdictions.

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