Macau government extends casino licenses until December – media

A general view shows casinos and hotels following the coronavirus outbreak in Macau, China February 5, 2020. REUTERS

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HONG KONG, March 3 (Reuters) – Macau’s casino companies will have their licenses extended by six months, public broadcaster TDM reported on Thursday, citing a city official, giving more time for a much-anticipated re-bid process in the largest casino center in the world.

Economy and Finance Secretary Lei Wai Nong, speaking after a meeting of the Legislative Assembly, said Macau’s casino licenses which were due to expire on June 26 will be extended until December 31. revised law.

The six Macau operators, Wynn Macau (1128.HK), Sands China (1928.HK), MGM China (2282.HK), SJM Holdings (0880.HK), Galaxy Entertainment (0880.HK) and Melco Resorts, must all submit a new request to maintain operations in the former Portuguese colony under Chinese rule.

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The Macau government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lawmakers in China’s special administrative region must first approve changes to the city’s gaming law, which are the biggest reforms in two decades.

The law will lay the groundwork for what is required of multi-billion dollar casino operators before their license expires.

In 2019, Macau raked in $36.5 billion from its casinos, more than six times that of the Las Vegas Strip.

Since 2020, however, Macau’s casinos have come under fire from coronavirus-related travel restrictions, which have held back visitors, and a crackdown from the opaque junket industry.

Beijing, increasingly suspicious of Macau’s acute addiction to gambling, has yet to say how the license renewal process will unfold.

It is clear, however, that the authorities want much greater control over the activities of casino operators.

Beijing and Macau have massively tightened control over casinos in recent years, with authorities cracking down on illicit capital flows from the mainland and targeting clandestine lending and illegal money transfers.

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Reporting by Farah Master Editing by Robert Birsel and Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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