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Macau begins licence auction in September

Ho Iat-Seng, the chief executive of Macau, has stated that the public bidding procedure for the six available casino licences would run from 29 July to 14 September.

The revelation follows yesterday's announcement that a new nine-member committee, the Committee for Public Tendering of Concessions for the Operation of Casino Games of Fortune, will be responsible for supervising the bidding process.

The public tender is the consequence of a May-approved revision of Macau's gaming law, which replaces the old structure of three concessionaires and three subconcessionaires with a streamlined model of six concessions.

Six companies are now licenced to provide gaming: Las Vegas Sands, SJM, Melco, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, and Wynn. There is little substantial difference between a concession and a subconcession.

The new approach will also provide the chief executive with the authority to award tax benefits, especially if casinos are successful in luring non-domestic customers.

The procedure was governed by Executive Order 136/2022, which was published in the official government gazette.

Among the criteria are a MOP$10 million deposit for competitors and a 10-year maximum tender duration.

The existing six concessionaires' licences will expire on December 31, following a six-month extension granted in June. The objective is to have new or renewed licences in place by January 1, 2023.

The revelation comes after three of the worst years in the history of the land-based gaming industry in Macau, with GGR falling by over 80 percent from MOP$293.31bn ($36.29bn/£29.95bn/€35.75bn) in 2019 to MOP$61.05bn in 2020 before rebounding to MOP$87.56bn in 2021.

Many analysts predicted that 2022 would be a better year for business than 2021, but China's "zero-Covid" policy has led to a situation in which even relatively small outbreaks by western standards result in strict government action, culminating in the most recent closure of casinos, which reopened on July 23.

Sands China alone recorded a net loss of $422 million for the second quarter of 2022, creating worries about the sector's future profitability in this area.



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