ast week, the local gaming operator announced in a statement sent to the Hong Kong stock exchange that they had agreed to pay a us$ 189.7 million premium to the government for a block of land in Cotai. On that same day, the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) said the request for a land concession was still being reviewed and the government was yet to make a final decision.
Last Wednesday, according to Tam “The process of reviewing land concession requests follows specific rules.” He indirectly hinted however the request could be approved sooner or later. “The government has already said that land concession requests for gaming projects filed before 2008 would be approved. But those submitted after 2008 would not. Wynn is one of the operators that filed the request before that timeline,” he added.
He went on: “Some land in Cotai has not yet been granted, but that will likely happen in five-year’s time. The government did not say it would not approve [Wynn’s land request], but the final decision is not official yet.”
In Macau, land concessions are usually gazetted years after the agreement is reached.
Last week, Wynn said it had “formally accepted the terms and conditions of a land concession contract for approximately 51 acres [20.6 hectares] of land” and had already placed a fence around the block, located next to City of Dreams resort and the Macau University of Science and Technology campus, a company spokesperson told Macau Daily Times.
According to the operator, the us$ 189.7 million premium was to be divided in one down payment, and eight semi-annual payments, while the rent was set at us$ 755,171 a year. In May, chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn, told local media the company would start construction of the project as soon as the land was granted. The cost of the new project in Macau is expected to exceed us$ 2.4 billion and open within four or five year’s time, in late 2014 or early 2015.
Secretary Tam also reminded that the government would only allow the number of tables to increase by three percent until 2020, when some gaming licences are scheduled to expire. At this moment, SJM and MGM are also still waiting for the government’s reply concerning their Cotai reques.
Francis Tam meanwhile announced the government is working on a new legal system for the construction and location of casinos, slot machines and lottery houses, which will be ready in the first semester of next year. “The government’s stance is very clear: slot machine rooms have to move away from residential areas,” the secretary stressed.
This policy was announced in 2007. “Slot machines and lottery houses are banned in residential buildings and those that already exist will be relocated,” he recalled.