Macau SAR’s gaming law set for revision
João Nuno Riquito and Belmiro Leong of Riquito Advogados assess the main areas of the region’s gaming law put forward for discussion
On September 14 2021, less than one year to go from the term of the current three gaming concessions and three respective sub-concessions, the Macau SAR government kicked off the procedure for the revision of Law No. 16/2001 – best known as the Macau Gaming Law – with the public consultation on the main items of such revision. This exercise ran until October 25 2021.
The document made available by the government for consultation sets forth three main goals for the revision of the gaming law:
To clearly outline the future of the gaming sector and respective size, in particular in respect of the number of concessions and respective term;
To strengthen the mechanisms for assessment of the suitability of the gaming concessionaries and other operators (specially the gaming promoters, known as ‘the junkets’), in particular with the appointment of government delegates to the concessionaires; and
To clearly define the non-gaming projects that shall be developed and supported by the gaming concessionaires.
In view of these, the following main areas of revision are put forward for consideration and discussion:
Revision of the number of concessions;
The extinction of the sub-concessions;
Revision of the regular term of the concessions;
The reinforcement of the supervision over concessionaires, intermediaries and its collaborators;
The introduction of government representatives in the corporate structure of the gaming concessionaires;
The promotion of non-gaming projects and corporate social responsibility; and
The stipulation of criminal penalties and administrative sanctions.
One of the most significant changes in the consultation document is the extinction of the legal figure of the gaming sub-concessions, which is the mechanism under which the Venetian Macau, MGM Grand Paradise and Melco Resorts (Macau) are currently operating in Macau SAR.
Another notable proposed change is the restriction on profit distribution to concessionaires’ shareholders, without the prior approval of the Macau SAR government. Currently, there is no such limitation, hence the gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires may distribute profits in accordance with the provisions established in Section 198 of the Commercial Code, which apply generally to any commercial company in Macau SAR.
On the other hand, the consultation document suggests that the government could assign representatives in the concessionaires for the purposes of direct supervision over their daily operation, but it does not provide further details as to their respective roles, powers and duties.
Whilst underscoring the promotion of non-gaming and corporate social responsibility, the consultation document explicitly mandates that the future concessionaires have to strive to facilitate the economic diversifications of Macau SAR and help develop the city into the ‘World Centre of Tourism and Leisure’.
Most of the proposed items of the revision are set forth in a very general undetailed manner, hence the market and (potential) players are looking forward for the result of the public consultation and the new gaming law.
João Nuno Riquito
Managing partner, Riquito Advogados
Trainee lawyer, Riquito Advogados