The gambling mecca of Macau is set to face tougher regulations as government authorities look to double the number of casino inspectors. Several departments are tipped to be restructured, as the city looks to ramp up its hold over the casino industry. The move to beef up supervision of the gambling hub comes as the Chinese mainland is intent on reigning in the flow of foreign capital.
Macau Casinos set to face tougher supervision measures
Junket operators and VIP casino customers remain in the crosshairs of Chinese authorities. Mainland authorities have insisted on limiting financing options for international gambling, and the Chinese government is preparing for a flood of activity to return to the city after the pandemic. The new regulations will double the number of casino inspectors to 459 and include a new director to be posted at the DICJ.
The continued growth in revenues has meant that Chinese officials have ramped up the pressure to contain the cross-border flow of capital. The latest proposed expansion is being pushed by authorities to increase “supervisory efforts.” However, there is also a belief that China might try to exert the same control on Macau that it has on Hong Kong.
New government amendment a response to the increase in Casino Activity
In a statement released by the Macau Executive Council, the proposal also calls for the creation of a deputy-director level post. The new director will be tasked with overseeing the reorganization of the DICJ. Adriano Marques Ho is currently in charge of the local casino authority; his time in the top role was recently extended to 2023.
Former criminal investigator Lio Chi Chong is the sole deputy director based at the regulator since February 2021. The DICJ, regulates Macau’s online casino operator, 40 casinos and VIP rooms. This is a massive task for an industry that has grown to more than $45 billion in revenues, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes set to effect new Casino Licenses
The timing of the new regulations is a cause for concern for some of the major players in the city. Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts, SJM Holding, MGM China, Wynn Macau and Sands China will all be required to rebid for gaming concessions as their licenses are set to expire next year. Casinos were expected to face tougher scrutiny, with the government confirming in March a new re-tendering process for gaming concessions.
“The gaming industry is related to Macau’s future and welfare, and the re-tendering of gaming licenses is being prepared accordingly, the public consultation will start in the second half of 2021,” according to Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong.
The Secretary has also confirmed the government’s intention to launch the re-tendering process for gaming concessions in the second half of 2021 as the local industry continues to suffer. Local authorities remain optimistic over the economic recovery, though, despite 2021 revenue figures only half of the levels of 2019. Some improvement has already been seen and analysts predict the second half of this year to be much stronger.