Tuesday January 18th saw the publication of the Macau Legislative Assembly’s draft of a highly anticipated Gaming Bill, giving details on the Chinese territory’s objective of increasing its control over casino firms and restricting the practices of junket operators.
The proposed changes require legislators’ approval in order to become law but seek to substantially reform the rules on money wagered, in preparation for the mandatory renewal of casino licences – capped at just six and limited to just 10 years – later this year. The licences of the current six operators, Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts, MGM China, Sands China, SJM Holdings and Wynn Macau all expire in June.
If approved, casino operators will no longer be permitted to operate dedicated junket rooms, as the draft Bill seeks to clarify and control the role of third-party junket operators. Licenses would be issued to approved VIP promoters but will only allow them to operate in one concessionaire, with revenue sharing from gambling activities prohibited. Under the terms of the draft Bill, casinos would also be subject to a review every three years, with the city’s gaming regulator examining their contractual compliance.
Each license holder will have a 30% cap on the number of shares that can be publicly listed while any major financial transactions must be communicated to authorities.
The draft Bill also requires new licensees to provide support for local small and medium-sized companies, engage in activities of ‘public interest’ and support scientific and the environmental initiatives.