Debate percolates over future gaming concessions in Macau

An undercurrent of debate over the future of existing gaming concessions in Macau has begun to percolate as the contracts approach renewal in the coming few years.
In a report launched by the Hong Kong-based securities and intelligence consultancy, Steve Vickers Associates, the firm says the Macau government may be considering looking to a “new” local entity to receive a gaming concessionaire.
This would open competition to the existing six operators who entered the market after the liberalization of the gaming industry in 2002, three of which are U.S. companies.
The latest 2015 Asia Risk Assessment report says the existing concessionaires are expecting easy renewals. But it adds that “visibility of U.S. companies such as Las Vegas Sands (Corp), and Wynn Resorts (Ltd) and nationalist feeling in China could tempt the (Macau) government to endorse a local competitor,” the report says.
Last August, Fernando Chui Sai On, Macau’s chief executive, offered to carry out a public consultation on the casino license “renewal” process ahead of making any decision.
The current period of 2015/16 has been seen as a starting point for the city’s government to begin discussions.
But so far officials have been tight lipped over whether they will grant new concession contracts to the current operators. Under the contracts the existing gaming licenses can be extended more than once but only for a further period of five years.