With just one year to go before the expiry of Macau’s casino concessions, the government has announced a major overhaul of its gaming regulator, more than doubling the number of inspection staff.
Macau’s Executive Council, an advisory body, said the changes were necessary to strengthen supervision due to the increasing number of gaming establishments. Inspection staff will go from 192 to 459, with the number increasing gradually according to needs, the council said in a statement.
Other changes include the addition of a deputy director, under Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau Director Adriano Marques Ho.
There will also be a change in the organizational structure, with the Games of Fortune Inspection Department and the Mutual Bets Inspection Department consolidated into the Games Inspection Department, which in turn will be divided into three divisions.
There will be a Research Department, a Department of Installations and Information Technology and a Legal and Licensing Department.
The regulation will take effect after it is published in the Official Gazette, the statement said, without clarifying when that might be.
Macau’s casino industry has seen explosive growth since it was liberalized in 2002. The DICJ now oversees 41 casinos in the territory, compared with just 17 in 2005 as the concessionaires have expanded.
Further expansion may well be dictated by the terms of the concession renewals and whether the government allows newcomers into the market. The concessions expire in June of next year and the government still needs to publish its draft law, which will have to be submitted for public consultation before approval.
According to a special report in Macau Business, many legal and gaming experts now believe it’s only a matter of time before the government announces that it will extend the current six concessions for a further two years to give it the necessary time.
The pandemic is likely to be the explanation for the delay, it says.