Macau’s operators have welcomed the passage of the city’s amended gaming law, which heralds the first major regulatory change in two decades.

The Legislative Assembly pushed on with a vote for the final reading on Tuesday, despite government shutdowns due to the Covid outbreak.

MGM China Holdings said the law will play an important role in a healthy and sustainable development of the gaming industry in Macau. 

“At MGM China, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to the Legislative Assembly and the Macau SAR government for their efforts in accomplishing the passage of the gaming law smoothly and successfully.”

“As always, MGM China is full of confidence for the future development of the Macau SAR. We will continue to unswervingly support the relevant plans of the Macau SAR government to promote economic diversification, and fully support Macau to further consolidate its position as a World Center of Tourism and Leisure.”

Sands China President Wilfred Wong had a similar message, expressing confidence in the future of Macau’s gaming industry. 

“The company is once again very grateful to the SAR government for carrying out extensive consultations throughout the entire legislative process, which led to a consensus among the general public,” he said.

SJM said the amendments lay out clear guidelines for the orderly development of Macau’s gaming industry. 

“SJM has been earnestly preparing for the tender process and is confident in the company’s continued future presence in Macau, in contribution to reinforcing Macau’s positioning as a world center of tourism and leisure,” it said.

While Melco Resorts & Entertainment said it ​​will continue to promote economic diversification to further strengthen Macau’s position as a world center of tourism and leisure.

Galaxy Entertainment, like its peers, thanked the government and said it will now fully prepare itself for the tender process. It also said it was taking the opportunity to thank all front-line workers for their efforts in fighting the pandemic. 

In turn, Wynn Macau praised the Government and the Legislative Assembly for the very efficient process and collaborative engagement with all of the stakeholders.

The amended legislation was a key step to be taken prior to the concession renewal tenders. The licenses were scheduled to expire at the end of June, although the government has allowed a six-month extension to provide more time for the legislative process.

It is now expected to proceed quite swiftly with the detailed requirements of the re-tender process.

The bill contains a number of key provisions to tighten regulatory oversight of the industry. Junket operators will now only be allowed to work with one casino operator and revenue-sharing agreements will not be permitted.

Under the original version of the amended law, satellite casinos would only be allowed to operate in premises owned by the concession holders after a three-year grace period. That was extended due to concern over employment and they will be able to carry on, but on a flat-fee management contract with again no revenue sharing.

The law does away with sub-concessions and caps the number of concessions at six. It also reduces the term to ten years from the 20 handed out initially.

The government will also be able to terminate a license if it considers there has been a threat to national security. This has not been clearly defined.

Another measure will introduce a minimum level of gross gambling revenue that is expected per table and machine. If there is a shortfall, the operator will have to make it up to the government. A shortfall for two years in a row may result in the table allocation being withdrawn.