The government of Macau, which is home to the largest concentration of casinos in the world, said on Wednesday that it has established a committee to evaluate prospective applicants for additional casino licenses. The selection of winners is scheduled to take place before the end of the year.
Macau’s Chief of Justice, Cheong Weng Chon, its Chief of Finance and Economy, Li Wai Nong, the Head of the Tourism Board, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, as well as the Head of the Gambling Regulator, Adriano Ho, are all members of the panel.
On the official government website, it was stated that the bidding committee has the authority to examine and draw conclusions about all concerns connected to the issuing of contracts and the process of bidding.
As a result of this action, the casino hub is one step closer to the possibility of a shake-up of the existing operators when their contracts expire later this year. There is a month-end deadline coming up for the industry’s major names to submit bids for fresh operating permits.
Sands China, Wynn Macau, MGM Chinese Taipei, Galaxy Entertainment, and SJM-Holdings-Melco Resorts will be forbidden from running casinos if they fail to get Macau’s new contract. These will take effect at the beginning of 2023.
COVID-19 Restrictions Still Looming
On July 23, 2022, a widespread lockdown was lowered, which resulted in most of Macau’s casinos being able to reopen their doors. However, given that Macau is still adhering to Covid-19 regulations, the casinos have just begun operating in a restricted capacity. The conditions are as follows:
- Only half of the casino’s employees are permitted to return.
- A rigorous disinfecting process is required for all returning employees.
- There can never be more than one person in a two-square-meter space.
- Customers and casino employees alike are expected to maintain a social distance from one another.
Despite the absence of a formal standard for a casino’s operational capacity during the first phase of reopening, it is probable that they won’t operate many tables owing to a shortage of patrons.
Macau’s six licensed casino operators are burning through millions of dollars in cash every day, and China’s suspension of quarantine-free travel is discouraging visitors from coming to the enclave. Casinos are Macau’s largest source of revenue from tourism and the reopening may not be able to do much to stop this.
Fortunately, the local propagation of the virus has been slowed down thanks to rounds of mass testing and the lockdown, and the officials in the city want the number of cases to remain close to zero so that they can make a stronger argument for reopening the border.