Second Standing Committee full discussions on new Macau gaming law, expected to pass next week

Macau’s new Gaming Law, which has been under discussion by the Second Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) for more than four months, was discussed by the committee for the last time on Wednesday, with chairman Chan Chak Mo confirming the AL will discuss and vote on the bill on Tuesday 21 June at the earliest.

Having undergone numerous amendments, the law has now finally been completed with a series of key changes expected to become official next week. Major aspects of the new law include:

A maximum of 6 casino gambling concessions will be issued following a re-tender. The maximum gaming concession is 10 years, with a three-year extension to be granted by the Chief Executive under special circumstances. Satellite casinos may no longer participate in revenue share arrangements with concessionaires, with a three-year transitional period for existing satellite casinos during which revenue sharing will be permitted. The Chief Executive will specify the total number of gaming tables and slot machines in Macau and the minimum annual gross revenue per table and per slot machine. If the average gross revenue of a dealer’s gaming tables and slot machines does not reach the specified minimum gross revenue limit, the dealer will be subject to a “special premium” (effectively additional tax) calculated on the difference between the average gross revenue and the minimum gross income limit. Concessionaires will be subject to specific corporate social responsibility (CSR) requirements. Junket operators cannot participate in gaming by contracting to “own” or “operate” a table or participate in the gambling business but may “provide intermediary services” on a non-revenue share basis meaning they can earn commission only. Management companies can only charge management fees and the employment of management companies by concessionaires is subject to the approval of the Chief Executive. Concessionaires, which must be Macau companies, cannot be listed. However, parent companies of the dealers may be listed. One permanent shareholder of each concessionaire must be a resident of Macau and must hold at least 15% of the capital. However, as is currently the case, it seems the 15% does not have to have to be beneficially held and the shareholder does not have to hold economic or voting rights. The Chief Executive may reduce the 5% of GGR gaming charges imposed by the government for the Macao Foundation and the urban construction, tourism and social security fund if the concessionaire successfully grows foreign visitation. The registered capital of concessionaires is increased from MOP $ 200 million to MOP $ 5 billion, meaning the net assets of concessionaires must be maintained above this amount. The owner of the building in which the casino is located must ensure the free movement of casino users and the effective operation of its water, electricity, air-conditioning and telecommunications network. Dealers are required to establish and maintain an extensive responsible gaming policy. The shareholders of 5% or more of the capital stock of concessionaire shall be jointly and severally liable for the liabilities of the business. Concessionaires and their shareholders who own 5% or more of its capital shall not directly hold the capital of any other concessionaire but may hold up to 5% of the capital of another concessionaire indirectly. A new system of penalties is to be introduced for dealers. Chief Executive may terminate the contract of a concessionaire for six reasons, including endangering the security of China or the Macau SAR, contract cancellation, concession redemption, failure of a concessionaire to comply with its obligations under Article 22 of the Law, in the public interest , or if the concessionaire ceases to be properly qualified under Article 14 of the Law.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Chan said, “This law will be considered and voted on [by the AL] next Tuesday at the earliest. ”

As for the other major piece of legislation regulating the casino gambling industry which is currently being considered by the AL, commonly know as the “Junket Law”, Chan noted, “We must wait until the Gaming Law is passed before we can continue to discuss the Junket Law. I think there is a high chance that all the provisions of the Gaming Law will be passed. ”

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