The Macau Executive Council confirmed proposed amendments to the enclave’s VIP junket laws this week by submitting an updated legal framework to the Legislative Assembly for final approval.
Known as the “Legal Framework for Casino Gambling,” the junket-focused bill seeks to revamp how VIP promoters are permitted to operate in the casino hub. Many of the bill’s provisions have already been known, including the condition that junkets work with only one of the six casino concessionaires.
Inside Asian Gaming said the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) confirmed the aspects of the junket bill during a press event yesterday.
DICJ Director Adriano Ho added that under the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) next regulatory environment, pending approval by the Legislative Assembly, promoters and casinos must have their contractual arrangements approved by the DICJ.
The junket amendment additionally includes provisions to handle disputes stemming from deposit and withdrawal issues, as well as proceedings for criminal activity committed by junket agents and sub-agents.
Law Approaching Finish
Macau is revising its gaming laws ahead of issuing its six casino operators fresh tenders. The SAR government originally planned to have its next regulatory law finalized long before the six casino concessions saw their licenses expire on June 26, 2022.
COVID-19 greatly impeded such legislative rulemaking. As a result, Macau offered the casinos the opportunity to extend their current licenses through the end of the year at a cost of around $6 million each.
The extension gives Macau more than enough time to finalize the new gaming legal framework. The Legislative Assembly says the final gaming law will be approved before July, which will give the local government six months to field gaming applications from the six operators and reissue the companies fresh permits should they be found suitable.
A major stipulation for the casinos is that they further invest MOP5 billion (US$620 million) into their resorts in exchange for new gaming privileges. Another major regulatory change is that the licenses will run only 10 years — half the length of their current concessions.
Unlike Las Vegas and other major casino markets around the world that have experienced a hardy return of gamblers in wake of the pandemic’s most limiting times, Macau casinos continue to suffer. That’s due to China perpetuating its zero COVID policy and maintaining limited domestic and international leisure travel.
March gaming revenue numbers show just how badly the ongoing restrictions have hurt. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled just MOP$3.67 billion (US$459 million) last month.
March 2022 represents a 56% year-over-year drop. The total is also 54% lower than February 2022, and down 86% from March 2019 when the casinos won $3.2 billion. Last month was Macau’s worst performance in 18 months dating back to September 2020.
Through the first quarter of 2022, Macau GGR totals MOP8.3billion (US$1.03 billion). In the first quarter of pre-pandemic 2019, the casinos won more than $9.4 billion during the same three months.
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