Local prominent businessman David Chow Kam Fai, co-chairman of Macau Legend Development and former member of the Legislative Assembly (AL), Wednesday urged the government to study the possibility of granting two additional gaming concessions after the expiration of the city’s three gaming concessions and three sub-concessions.
Chow, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks while speaking to reporters at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf on the sidelines of the 2018 annual general meeting of his company.
Macau’s three gaming concessions and three sub-concessions will expire between 2020 and 2022.
The city’s six gaming operators are SJM, Wynn, Galaxy, Venetian, MGM and Melco. While SJM, Wynn and Galaxy are concessionaires, the Venetian, MGM and Melco are sub-concessionaires. The concession of SJM and its sub-concession MGM will expire in 2020, while the others will expire in 2022.
According to Law 16/2001 regulating the city’s gaming industry, which came into force in 2001, a maximum of three gaming concessions were to be granted.
The government announced the results of the gaming concession bidding process and granted concessions to SJM, Wynn and Galaxy in early 2002.
In late 2002, the government allowed Galaxy to set up a sub-concession relationship with the Venetian – by amending Galaxy’s concession contract.
Following the issuing of the first sub-concession, SJM and Wynn signed their own sub-concession deals in 2005 and 2006 respectively, SJM with MGM and Wynn with Melco.
According to Law 16/2001, a gaming concession cannot exceed 20 years. The government has noted, however, that the gaming industry law allows the chief executive to extend gaming concessions for a maximum of five years under special circumstances.
The government has repeatedly reaffirmed that once the gaming concessions and sub-concessions expire, a bidding process will be held rather than the government simply renewing the existing agreements.
Speaking to reporters, Chow urged the government to announce the details of its gaming concession bidding process as soon as possible – such as the number of gaming concessions to be granted and the requirements that companies will need to meet for bidding for a gaming concession, as the existing gaming concessions and sub-concessions will expire between 2020 and 2022.
Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On said late last year that the government expected to announce the details of the upcoming bidding process around the middle of this year.
As the government has not yet announced its proposal about the bidding process, it is still unknown whether it will keep the current system of gaming sub-concessions.
Chow, who has invested in a large-scale hotel-casino resort project in Cape Verde, said he hoped that the government will come up with polices on the city’s gaming industry “tilted in favour of” local companies.
Chow said that many local companies are upbeat about Macau’s development prospects, particularly when many opportunities will be created by the opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) Bridge and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA).
Chow said that if the government decides not to change the current number of gaming operators, it would be difficult for new companies to compete in the upcoming public tender with the existing six gaming operators which have been running large-scale casino businesses for many years.
Chow suggested that the government should study the possibility of granting two additional gaming concessions, which he said would help “attract more investors” and “end the oligopoly” of the city’s gaming industry, adding that it would also be beneficial for Macau’s overall development.
Chow did not reveal whether he plans to bid for a gaming concession.