The possible appointment of a government representative to each of Macau’s casino concessionaires will not affect their operations, the DICJ has confirmed.
The comments, from DICJ subdirector Lio Chi Chong, were made in response to questions from a member of the public during the second of four public consultation sessions to be hosted by the Macao SAR Government. The second consultation, which IAG attended, was held on Saturday – with the third and fourth consultations scheduled for today and tomorrow (Sunday and Monday).
Subdirector Lio’s comments, made with DICJ Director Adriano Ho sitting at his side, follow the publication of proposed amendments to Macau’s gaming law on 14 September, with a proposal to appoint a government representative among the most debated by industry commentators in the six weeks since.
Among a handful of local citizens to ask questions during Saturday’s public consultation session was a Miss Ho, who asked how the government representative would be selected, whether they would be nominated by the Chief Executive, how many representatives there would be per concessionaire, how the government representative would operate in their supervision of concessionaires and how the government would ensure that their representative would not be corrupted.
In response, Subdirector Lio referred to the government’s consultation document and added, “This is not a new concept in Macau. The purpose of the government representative is to ensure the healthy development and supervision of the concessionaires.
“But whether we send a government representative or don’t send a government representative will not affect the operations of concessionaires.”
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, the appointment of a government representative has been seen before in Macau with SJM Holdings parent company STDM having had a designated representative when it was Macau’s monopoly casino operator pre-2002. Sports betting concession Macau SLOT Co Ltd and horse racing concession Macau Jockey Club also remain subject to such a provision to this day.
In a recent paper addressing the issue, Macau law firm MdME explained the fundamental purpose and key duties of a government representative are to supervise the concessionaires’ compliance with its legal and contractual obligations and to protect public interest within the activities pursued by the concessionaire. The subject was discussed at length during a recent IAG special video presentation on the proposed Macau gaming law revision (jump to video timestamp 58:20 for the government representative discussion).
The government representative’s role could include having the authority to participate in board and shareholders’ meetings, to inspect the company’s financials, to request documents and information deemed necessary to exercise its duties and to participate in the negotiation of relevant concession contracts and amendments.
Nevertheless, the DICJ’s clarification will come as welcome news to the concessionaires themselves.
Saturday’s public consultation ran for around 70 minutes and attracted eight questions from members of the public on various topics including family facilities in IRs, competition from other regions, developing local talent, CSR (corporate social responsibility), harm minimization, pollution of the environment, capitalization of the concessionaires and the definition of non-gaming elements.
On the latter point, DICJ Subdirector Lio said, “There is no concrete definition of a non-gaming element yet. We want more opinions, to see how we should define non-gaming elements.”