Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac said on Monday that he would consider amending the law to keep Coloane free of casinos – if the public wishes.
The policy secretary made the remark during a Q&A session in the legislature’s hemicycle on Monday.
Directly-elected lawmaker Au Kam San asked Leong on Monday about a hotel project near Seac Pai Van’s public housing estates and another one in the north-eastern part of Coloane. He said both developers had announced separately that they were planning to include a casino in their hotels, but were waiting for the government’s green light.
Au questioned the need to approve more gaming tables as the gaming industry’s decade-long boom had come to an end.
Au lamented the casino expansion in the peninsula and Cotai, calling Coloane Macau people’s “final sanctuary” free of the gaming industry’s tentacles. The grassroots lawmaker urged the government to keep Coloane as the city’s green lung.
Leong, whose portfolio includes supervision of the gaming industry, responded that per current laws and regulations, there were no restrictions on where a casino can be operated in Macau. He also said there had been no request from either developer for gaming tables.
Lands, Transport and Public Works Bureau (DSSOPT) Acting Vice-Director Cheong Ion Man added that of the two hotel projects, only one had so far submitted a construction plan to his bureau, which he said did not have any gaming facilities in its blueprint. The other project was still in the planning stage, Cheong said.
However, lawmakers were not happy with both officials’ answer. Legislator-cum-unionist Jose Pereira Coutinho doubted that either hotel wouldn’t include a casino, saying that he couldn’t believe that any developer would be willing to invest in a 5-star hotel in Macau without a casino.
Responding to the lawmakers’ concerns, Leong said if the majority of the public wished that Coloane stay casino-free, he would consider amending the law.
Any such bill would have to be passed by the legislature to become law.
There has never been a casino in Coloane, even though gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun’s company was reportedly interested in opening one at the former Westin Resort back in the 1990s. The city’s then Portuguese administration is understood to have rejected the request on public security grounds. (macaunews/macaupost)