Macau’s US-connected gaming operators pressed the “SOS” button to demonstrate pro-China posturing by holding “Two Sessions Sharing Meetings,” a local professor familiar with US-China relations and Macau’s gaming industry told Inside Asian Gaming.
After the national “Two sessions” meetings between the Chinese’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which were completed in Beijing in May, relations between the United States and China have continued to be strained due to a variety of issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic and China’s decision to implement a national security law in Hong Kong. On Tuesday, the NPC’s Standing Committee unanimously passed the national security law in Hong Kong, with the US subsequently declaring it will suspend defense exports to Hong Kong.
While Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng this week backed the law, the SAR’s US gaming operators – Wynn Macau, MGM China and Sands China – have all been sure to pay their dues to China by hosting separate “Two Sessions Sharing Meetings” in June, inviting Macau’s NPC deputies and CPPCC members, as well as officials from the Macau Liaison Office and the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), to convey the “Spirits of Two Sessions” for their employees.
Eilo Wing-Yat Yu, associate professor of the Department of Government and Public Administration of the University of Macau, said hosting such events was “strange” but understandable given the political atmosphere between the US, China, Hong Kong and Macau.
“It’s like pressing the SOS button, they have no choice but to host this prestigious project,” Yu said.
Yu expressed his belief that some gaming operators have been trying to shake the appearance of being US companies by selling their equity to local or pro-China businesses, pointing to the sale by Wynn Resorts of 5.3 million shares representing 4.9% of issued share capital to Galaxy Entertainment Group in 2018.
However, Yu expects those companies will, in turn, face pressure from the US. He also suggested some US operators may reconsider the size of their Macau investments given Beijing’s moves to tighten its monitoring and supervision of capital flow.
“Gaming operators in Macau are facing pressures from both sides so they might reconsider their investment values in the Macau market,” he said. “But there are still a lot of changes.”
Wynn Macau stated in a press release this week that its sharing session provided “an overview of the spirit” of the “Two Sessions” and the direction of national policy, which “enabled the team to build a deeper understanding of the country’s future development trajectory.”
MGM China also praised the event as enabling “team members to realize that Macau’s development is closely intertwined with the prosperity and success of our nation.”
Sands China President Dr Wilfred Wong even hosted Sands China’s sharing sessions, stating “it’s necessary for team members to fully understand the national policy directions” and explaining that Macau will gradually recover from the epidemic with the support of China and the advantages of One country, Two systems.”