Macau lawmakers say ‘no rush’ on licenses; but this might speed the process

Macau’s health authorities announced over the weekend that mass testing of the entire city, around 700,000 people, had produced not a single positive case of Covid-19. However, they are still monitoring more than 1,000 close contacts of the family that last week became the first positive case of the Delta variant. Once that had been satisfied, the government was likely to ease restrictions on activity for the city’s residents and visitors, but another round of testing might be necessary.

More interesting for the longer-term future of Macau than the current Covid-19 scare, however, was the release of a “recommendation” paper from the legislature’s sub-committee on the future of the six gaming concessions, which expire next year, June, 2022. The legislative group has called on the executive branch to provide clarity on the process and timeline for awarding new concessions, which it calls a “re-tendering”. It also says that there should be no rush in this, i.e., hinting that the existing concessions should be extended in order to provide sufficient time for a well thought-out process.

Although the document contains nothing startling, it does bring up the curtain on a public performance between the city’s legislative and executive branches which could end up accelerating rather than delaying the awarding of new concessions, contrary to what many observers might currently imagine. And the emphasis in the document on national security considerations, particularly the recently passed criminal statutes by Beijing against gaming promotion on the mainland, provides food for thought about what could amended in the Gaming Law during the coming weeks and months.

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