New Macau chief sees ‘historical problems’ with casinos

Ho Iat Seng, Macau’s new Chief Executive-designate, has made his first remarks on the issue of the gaming concessions, telling reporters that he is keen to resolve their “historical problems”. 

Speaking to the media after getting a warm pat on the back by President Xi Jinping, who appointed him the third CE of Macau since the 1999 handover, Ho said he was keen to see the law take the lead in dealing with the imminent expiry and retendering process of the concessions, rather than using executive orders. 

Macau’s six gaming concessions were originally born as only three – Galaxy/LVS, Wynn, and SJM. However, when Galaxy and LVS (Sands China today) split, the government created a sub-concession for LVS, by Executive Order, i.e. it was never written into the original Gaming Law. That was followed by the sale of two other sub-concessions: SJM sold one to MGM, and Wynn sold one to Melco.

Ho was not a member of Macau’s Legislative Assembly at the time the concessions were awarded, but he was a member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. He is well aware of the intricacy of the history of these concessions, in other words.

“Sole reliance on administrative means” to resolve the issues rather than use of legislation, would “only give rise to various problems,” he said. “So in this respect, I’d emphasise the amendment of the gaming law.”

“We have historical problems to face up to, and we have to see how we can resolve them,” he added.

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