New era requires different leadership

The president of the new Commission for Gaming Licenses Tender and Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong, said that Macau is to enter a whole new era for the local gaming industry, with different goals and purposes than those held in the previous 2001 tender.

Questioned on the differences between the members that compose the current Commission in charge of evaluating the gaming licenses and the one established back in 2001, he explained that those new goals require different sectors and government departments to be in charge of the tender. 

“One of the requirements is the expansion of the gaming sector into foreign markets, this will bring a new era for the gaming sector in Macau,” said Cheong during a press conference yesterday. 

Back in 2001, it was the Secretary for Economy and Finance that was the chairman of the Commission and also the director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), and other government officials had the leading roles. 

“At that time, what was on the line was gaming liberalization and the focus was on boosting Macau’s economic development from the gaming sector so that this was reflected in the composition of the members of the Commission,” said Cheong.

“This time, and after 20 years have passed, we already have a certain scale and so the government does not want and will not reinforce the infrastructure of the casinos. We will not do that. We will pay more attention to the non-gaming elements as well as support for the small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the expansion into foreign markets,” Cheong explained in detail,

He added that not only would the nine members of the Commission play an important role, but also a lot of other government departments that are under their umbrella.

“Later we will have works that are related to the Cultural Affairs Bureau and the Sports Bureau, and other services and departments that are under the Secretariat of Economy and Finance, among others. They all going to participate in this work. I can say that all departments under the tutelage of the three secretaries [Economy and Finance, Administration and Justice, and Social Affairs and Culture] will be involved,” Cheong said, noting, “this is not just a new licensing but also a very important work regarding the future development of the gaming sector and Macau, and this is why the Commission now has more [and different] members.”

The only deadline is December 31

Although the tender will still have to pass through several stages, including the submission of the bids, evaluation, negotiation between the Commission and bidders, the issuing of a provisional list, temporary concessions, and final concession contract, among others, Cheong says that the only focus in terms of deadline is December 31 this year, a date when all casino venues from the current concessions will be temporarily reverted to the government before being redistributed to the new concessions.

Besides that, the timing for all other stages except the submission of applications is “flexible and will depend on the work progress,” he said, expressing confidence that this deadline can be fulfilled without major issues.

The same official also said that, like the government, those that have an interest in being part of this tender have already been working on it for some time, and so the process would be straightforward.

Incomplete regulations

Cheong does not believe that all regulations regarding the gaming industry, namely the ones that aim to regulate the business of gaming promoters, commonly known as junkets, are a priority.

The Secretary notes they are well-aware that there are several laws and administrative regulations that need to be approved, amended, and reviewed, but said that none of those works are a prerequisite for the gaming tender, saying that such regulations can come later, as long as they are done before the deadline of December 31.

“Regarding the legislation, the Legislative Assembly still has some laws to debate. This is a matter between the government and the [Standing] Committee, which is addressing the bill to see the progress of that work, but I believe that these laws will not influence the tender that we will start from [today].”

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