Macau’s satellite casino operators could find themselves on the outer under potential changes to the law as part of the SAR’s license re-tendering process.
The possibility of such an imbroglio was put forward by Rui Pinto Proença, Partner at Macau law firm MdME, during a discussion on local television news service TDM about the two-year license extension handed to SJM and MGM by the government last week.
Asked whether satellite casino operators would be able to continue should Macau’s current concession model be scrapped, Proença said the future existence of satellite casinos might not fit into the government’s previously stated policy goals of making the city a “World Centre of Tourism and Leisure.”
“Do these satellite casinos contribute to creating a world class tourism destination? I think many of them as they stand today would [find that] difficult to achieve,” Proença said.
“They are stakeholders, they have contributed, they should be consulted in the process and given the chance to bid for new concessions if [concession bids] are opened, [but] if some of them bid against international operators they will be placed in a very difficult position because it is hard to compete with companies that have created world class tourist destinations in other parts of the world.”
There are currently 20 satellite casinos – defined as casinos operated by a third party under the license of a Macau concessionaire – in Macau of which 16 are run under the license of SJM. Galaxy Entertainment Group licenses three and Melco Resorts one.
According to Proença, it would be difficult for most third-party operators to stand up in any license bidding process against foreign operators such as Genting, Hard Rock or even US tribal casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.
“These bring quality offerings and lots of experience,” he said.
“You could argue that satellite operators have a lot of local experience but with a few exceptions they are yet to prove they have the ability to build and operate world class IRs.”