Events in Macau have been moving at a breathtaking speed since the government first published its outline for changes to the gaming law in September. We saw panicked investors heading for the exits on concern over draconian new regulations for the six operators, only to hear a collective sigh of relief when a second outline was published in early January.
Hot on the heels of that publication came the actual law itself. The 44-page document again had industry watchers scratching their heads, with some gritty surprises buried in its pages and gaping holes as to how the rules will work in practice.
In this edition of our Focus section, we ask some leading figures in Macau’s casino industry to shed some light on the issues.
First, Alidad Tash, managing director of consulting firm 2NT8 Ltd and a former executive at both Sands China and Melco Resorts & Entertainment, takes us through some of the key changes in the legislation. He attempts to shed some light as to how some of the amendments might actually work in practice, addressing issues such as how the junkets will operate without their own private VIP rooms.
Jay Chun, chairman of Paradise Entertainment and head of the Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, defends the role of satellite casinos. According to the bill, these will no longer be able to operate in buildings not owned by the concessionaire, raising doubts about how they will survive.
Chun argues that these properties, mostly on Peninsula Macau, help to support the local economy, providing foot traffic to the noodle bars and souvenir shops that surround them.
Our third article in this section is written by Carlos Simões, a partner in DSL Lawyers, who acts mostly for developers and international funds with projects in Macau.
He takes a look at the demise of the junket sector, which has been in freefall since the arrest of Suncity CEO Alvin Chau late last year. Whilst not dead yet, he explains that the sector is on life support and we should watch for further changes as the regulatory noose tightens.
Lastly, but certainly not least, in this section we have an article from Glenn McCartney, Associate professor of Integrated Resort Management at the University of Macau.
He looks beyond the gaming law amendments to the next stage in the concession re-tender process, which will be the request for proposals from the various bidders.
It’s here we’re likely to see more details about the likely shape of Macau 2.0. However, he warns that in making their pitches, the candidates should pay close attention to the government’s stated vision for the industry.