First of four sessions

Macau delays first public consultation session on gaming law due to COVID-19 prevention

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong announced Sept. 14 a public consultation period to discuss legal revisions on casino licenses, government supervision, more.
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Set to take place on Wednesday, the session to discuss proposed amendments has been postponed due to the newly announced COVID-19 "state of immediate prevention" during the weekend. The rescheduling of the session, the only one to be conducted in Portuguese as well as Chinese, will be communicated "in due course." The 45-day public consultation period was launched on Sept. 15 and lasts until Oct. 29.

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) has canceled the first of four public consultation sessions on proposed amendments to the Chinese enclave’s gaming law, which was set to take place Wednesday, September 29, at 10 am.

The public consultation was postponed due to the newly announced COVID-19 “state of immediate prevention,” in order to cooperate with measures enforced since the weekend, said the DICJ on a notice issued late Monday morning.

The “state of immediate prevention” was launched following confirmation by authorities in Macau on Saturday that two security guards at a quarantine hotel tested positive to COVID-19. Massive testing was launched for all residents, taking place from Saturday to Tuesday.

Moreover, the bureau announced it would notify registered participants of the event about the cancelation, while the rescheduling of the session will be communicated in due course. Notably, the first session was the only one to be conducted in Portuguese as well as Chinese.

A date for the rescheduled session has not yet been confirmed. The following three consultations are set to take place on October 9, October 13, and October 19. The 45-day public consultation period was launched on September 15 and lasts until October 29.

The DICJ and the Secretariat for Economy and Finance have already hosted a consultation with Macau’s casino operators. During the session, representatives for the companies –Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, Melco Resorts and SJM Holdings– voiced their concerns and asked for clarity on the proposed gaming law revisions.

Public consultation was launched by China officials in the region to discuss legal revisions, including how many casino licenses will be allowed, how long the terms will last, the abolition of sub-concessions, and the level of supervision by the government. Macau’s casino licenses are up for rebidding next June.

Companies expressed asked for clarification on the proposed amendments, particularly the possibility of government representatives being appointed to the enclave to supervise daily casinos operations. Operators also showed concern on a requirement to ask the government for approval before declaring dividends.

As a result of the announced regulations earlier this month, casino stocks in Macau fluctuated throughout September, dropping a record $18 billion on Sept. 15, as uncertainty initially took over. While executives agreed Macau’s gaming law, launched 20 years ago, needs an updated and vouched support for the region’s development as an international tourism hub, they also asked for more information as changes could be critical to their business.

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