IAG AUGUST 2015 - page 10

ssumingMacau’s six current licensed operators will
have their concessions automatically renewed ignores
the history of gaming liberalization in the city and the
current state of play in theworld’s casino capital. Even
though Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel
Leong listed “renewal of the gaming licenses” among key priorities
for the government, Macau can do whatever it wants about casino
concessions, which expire beginning in 2020, including reducing or
increasing thenumber of operators.
“I suspect even inMacauand theCentralGovernment theydon’t
In Focus
andBeijingholdall thecards
know [what they’ll do]. I think there are some preferences that are
tempered by political or economic reality,” SpectrumAsia CEO Paul
Bromberg, an expert in gaming regulation, says. “Seven years is an
eternity inpolitics, a long time in the gaming industry.”
Conditions have certainly changed since Macau opened the
bidding for three concessions in late 2001 to end Stanley Ho’s 40
year casino monopoly. Back then, Macau had gaming revenue of
$2 billion, roughly half of Atlantic City’s take, compared with last
year’s $43.9 billion, nearly seven times the win in Las Vegas thanks
to the investment of some $20 billon (and counting) in new casino
facilities, including landmark integrated resorts. The city, in2001 still
recovering from the 1997 Asian economic crisis, achieved some of
the world’s most stunning economic growth for a decade, creating
virtual full employment andhuge fiscal surpluses.
Despite all that progress, concession expiration approaches in an
atmosphere that’s far less forgiving than it was 11 years ago when
Macau celebrated the opening of its first non-monopoly casino,
SandsMacao.Local authorities feel increasedpressures fromBeijing,
frustrated by what is sees as Macau’s failure to implement what it
believes are mutually agreed upon policies for greater oversight of
the gaming industry and broadening Macau’s tourist appeal. It’s
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