Local gaming experts have told FortuneZ that a public consultation on proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming law will likely be delayed until after the legislative election on 12 September 2021.
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng stated last year that a public consultation on the gaming law – which will precede a re-tendering process for gaming licenses in the Special Administrative Region, would be postponed to the second half of 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the six current gaming concessions are all due to expire in June 2022, the government has so far remained tight-lipped on any detail around the re-tendering process or what potential revisions to the law might look like.
And it could be a while before any such detail is made public with the Director of the Macao Games and Entertainment Mediators Association, Lam Kai Kuong, telling FortuneZ the public consultation will almost certainly be postponed until after the legislative election.
“I believe the public consultation will not start before the election in order to avoid extraneous problems,” Lam said. “Candidates must canvass local opinions about different topics in their political platforms, and it is not wise to make re-tendering one of the focus topics.”
Dr Zeng Zhonglu, Professor at the Centre for Gaming and Tourism Studies of Macao Polytechnic Institute (IPM), offered a similar view.
“I think it is very likely (to start the public consultation of Macau’s gaming law after the September election),” said Zeng. “I believe the SAR government has already prepared it, but does not want to launch it too early.”
Macau’s Chief Executive has been in Beijing over the past week for the annual National People’s Congress (NPC) session, where he expressed support for proposed amendments to Hong Kong’s electoral system and insisted Macau would not be influenced by “external forces” during an interview with Beijing’s CCTV (China Central Television). Although those impending amendments have been greeted with caution in many circles – particularly those in the West – Lam told IAG that Ho’s comments demonstrate the need for Macau to exude a positive image in September’s election while acting as a success story for China’s “one country, two systems” model.
“The government and other political parties in Macau will focus on ensuring the stability of the election,” Lam said. “The current gaming licenses are very likely to be extended beyond June 2022, so there is no need to rush re-tendering. Leaving the re-tendering process until after the legislative election would be better for society.”
Lam added that he expects any amendments to Macau’s gaming law will reflect calls by Beijing this week to reduce the economy’s reliance on revenue from the gaming industry.
Thirty-three seats in Macau’s Legislative Assembly will be re-shuffled on 12 September, with 14 seats to be elected directly by universal suffrage, 12 seats indirectly via local functional constituencies and the remaining seven appointed by the Chief Executive after the election.