Macau Announces Tender For Casino Concessions

July 29, 2022
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After years of government silence and industry confusion, Macau has finally announced a tender for the next wave of casino concessions.

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After years of government silence and industry confusion, Macau has finally announced a tender for the next wave of casino concessions.

In an order published on Thursday (July 28) in the government gazette, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng confirmed that the ten-year concessions will be awarded to a maximum of six concessionaires, whose applications will be judged against seven primary criteria.

The criteria include the size of premiums offered by applicants, their ability to open up “foreign” markets (customers outside China and Taiwan), their degree of industry experience, investment in gaming and non-gaming segments, specific plans for casino management, the capacity to monitor and deter criminal activity in casinos and wider corporate social responsibility.

Interested companies must submit applications between today (July 29) and September 14, along with a 10m pataca ($1.24m) deposit.

The executive order completes a rapid sequence of announcements that will likely ensure the selection of concessionaires prior to the expiry of the current concessions at the end of the year.

Following wide-ranging, compliance-dominated amendments to Macau’s casino control legislation in June, a framework for the tender was published on July 5, with members of a public tender commission named on Wednesday.

Gaming equity analysts are largely in agreement that the big six casino operators in Macau will retain their place in the once-lucrative market, provided they revise and expand their offerings to better suit the government’s agenda of promoting non-gaming diversification.

But administration and justice secretary Cheong Weng-chon told a press conference on Thursday that the government will not award concessions to unfit applicants, and is prepared to issue fewer than six concessions.

“The Macau government will treat each company wishing to participate in the tender process equally,” he said, while encouraging bids from the global industry. “And I am confident that the pandemic will not impact tender application work of investors.”

Cheong added that the public tender commission will also evaluate applications from a national security viewpoint, in accordance with the amended casino control law.

He did not elaborate on how the commission will do this.

Also on Thursday, economy and finance secretary Lei Wai Nong issued instructions and a due diligence form for “key employees” of bidding companies.

The form requires the applicants’ most senior employee in casino operations, finance, human resources, legal affairs and other categories to declare personal background data.

The required data includes physical appearance and the presence of “scars, tattoos [or] other distinguishing features”, marital status, criminal background and financial support for political causes or politicians within and outside China.

The last of these offers some clues on how Macau's government may seek to vet or veto senior staff, potentially creating a point of contention with US-based operators under pressure from US law relating to human and other rights abuses in China.

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