Macau may extend gaming licences, legal expert says


António Lobo Vilela, an expert on gaming law, has suggested that Macau will extend its six existing gaming concessions as it is running out of time to complete a public tender for June 2022.

Macau.- Gaming advisor Antonio Lobo Vilela believes Macau will extend its six current gaming concessions beyond 2022.

In an article for Gaming Law magazine, Lobo Vilela said authorities were running out of time to complete a public tender for June 2022.

He said the Macau Government “cannot control the timing of the approval of amendments to Macau Gaming Law, neither can it influence the timetable of discussions held in the newly elected Legislative Assembly.”

See also: Macau: gaming staff activist withdraws from legislative election.

He added: “Not having the legal and administrative basis for a tender established in advance constitutes a serious error when the futures of companies operating in Macau’s dominant industry and employing thousands of people are at stake.”

According to the current city’s gaming laws, licences can be extended for up to five years from the original 20-year term.

In May, Ambrose So Shu Fai, CEO of SJM, also said that the current gaming concessions should be extended. He said the move would give Macau’s gaming operators time to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the city time to better decide what changes to make to licence criteria.

Potential changes for licence criteria

In April, together with Pedro Cortes, managing partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei & Cortes, Lobo Viela released a research paper that said the city’s gaming licence criteria should require “commitments relating to several non-core activities.

The paper noted that Macau is “excessively dependent on tourism and gaming,” something that came starkly into view during Covid-19 countermeasures.

Analysts also suggest there should be a requirement for investment in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) to create an international world-class tourism destination that recognises the uniqueness of Macau’s cultural and social resources.

Another report entitled “The economic impact of a global pandemic on the tourism economy: the case of COVID-19 and Macao’s destination- and gambling-dependent economy” suggested that state casino operators should turn to online gambling and technology.

The report by Weng Marc Lim and Wai-Ming To said casino operators should “leverage on the technological advances such as virtual reality, to deliver a revamped online gambling experience.”

They said online gambling combined with virtual reality could help curb gambling addiction and boost casino operators’ revenue.

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