Including the six current licensees

Macau: seven gaming companies submit bids for new 10-year concessions

Reading time 2:36 min

Seven companies have submitted their tenders for Macau’s six gaming concessions. The list of firms vying for the 10-year licenses includes the city’s six current operatorsWynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resortsand a seventh company, GMM Limited, part of the Genting Group.

Malaysia-based GMM Limited, which local media describes as having substantial experience in its home country’s gaming industry, made a last-minute submission on Wednesday. Bidders delivered their tenders in outsize boxes to the offices of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, with the opening of each proposal set for Friday, according to Macao News.

The bidding process for the 10-year concessions will be followed by presentations from each company over the weekend. Gaming operators submitting proposals had also to show supporting documents and make a MOP 10 million ($1.2 million) deposit. 

Macau’s government launched the public tender process in July, with up to six concessions to run for 10 years starting next January. Authorities have not said when the new licensees will be announced, with negotiations expected to last weeks. However, analysts cited by Reuters believe the six winners could be announced by the end of November or early December.

The special administrative region of China –the only place in the country where gambling is legal– earns much of its annual revenue from casino operations. However, in addition to running their properties, operators are being asked by Macau authorities to attract overseas visitors, develop investments not related to gaming, and demonstrate corporate social responsibility.

This push for more non-gaming activities was also addressed by the gambling companies in their statements following the submission of their tenders. “Our proposal reinforces our commitment to Macau and the further diversification of its economy. We look forward to playing a leadership role in partnering with the Macau government to execute on the government’s vision,” commented on Wednesday Lawrence Ho, Chairman and CEO of Melco.

Lawrence Ho

“Over the next decade we hope to play a leading effort in helping Macao attract more tourists from more parts of the world and further its efforts to be recognized as a world center of tourism and leisure," said Sands China's President and Executive Director Wilfred Wong Ying Wai. The company’s submission highlights Sands China’s investments in the city, “specifically in non-gaming tourism amenities and attractions,” according to a press statement.

The lack of new competition –except for GMM– was an expected scenario. DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said the current environment made it challenging for new entrants. While Macau’s gaming industry at one stage outpaced Las Vegas, it is still suffering the effects of the Covid pandemic, with travel restrictions heavily impacting operations.

Additionally, the concession period has been shortened to 10 years from 20, and new entrants could fear not making proper returns during the newly given time. That move is part of a broader overhaul of legislation for Macau’s gambling industry, set to give authorities tighter oversight and control over the city’s casino operators.

Other actions authorities have taken as of late include a first-time formal table cap and minimum income requirements for new operators, set to begin with their contracts at the start of 2023. Additionally, officials have cracked down on junket operations, which led to former junket bosses Alvin Chau from Suncity and Levon Chan from Tak Chun being arrested for illegal gambling.

The time window for bids to be submitted, which went from July 29 until Sept. 14, took place amid Macau’s worst outbreak of Covid-19, which led to a 12-day shutdown of casinos in July. While the gaming venues have now reopened, business is slow, as restrictions are only being lifted gradually.

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