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Asia round-up: Macau GGR rises; gambling amendment bill still uncertain

Macau GGR up following CNY

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Analysts have seen strong revenue growth in Macau following the Chinese New Year (CNY).

Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the seven days from 7 to 13 February saw an average of MOP$428m ($53m) daily. According to analysts, this represents a 29% improvement over CNY, as well as the highest daily rate since May 2021.

JP Morgan’s DS Kim, Amanda Cheng and Livy Lyu commented: “It’s often been the case that tail-end demand (a week after Lunar New Year) was stronger than LNY demand itself – but recall, a big chunk of such tail-end came from high-end and VIP in the past. Thus, this strong tail-end – without junkets – is impressive and a very encouraging sign to suggest robust pent-up demand for mass gambling, in our view.”

According to Macau’s regulations, all arrivers via the Gongbei Border Gate are still required to present a negative Covid test result that was obtained within the last 48 hours. However, analysts consider mass GGR to have been driven by strong visitation, along with premium play post-holiday.

February GGR is expected to be around 45% higher than January 2022; yet it would still represent a 64% decrease from February 2019.

Uncertainties in regard to Macau’s gaming law amendment bill

Macau’s Legislative Assembly is expected to give a final reading to the gaming law amendment bill by June, just prior to the expiration of the current casino concessions.

Legislator Chan Chak Mo, President of the second standing committee of the Macau Legislative Assembly, who has been tasked with examining the bill, has suggested that given 'special circumstances,' the Government should extend contracts for another year.

The licences of Wynn Macau, Sands China, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resorts are all about to expire in four months and all are expected to apply for a new licence via a new tender process. However, authorities have not revealed when a new tender will be launched or if the current concession contracts will be extended.

Chak Mo said: “We are going to ask the Government what is the scope of management power of this delegated administrator and what is his suitability. There is also the question of nationality, whether or not dual nationality is allowed since the role of administrator is intended for Macau permanent residents.

"Since this director is so important, do we also need to know his academic qualifications or if he is a patriot? Here (on the draft gaming law) it does not make reference to nationality and that is why we are going to ask the government.”

Singapore’s new gambling bill proposes fines for underage gambling

According to Singapore’s new Gambling Control Bill, anyone taking part in gambling with an underage person, or anyone who gambles on behalf of an underage individual, faces up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to SGD300,000 ($223,000).

The minors found to be involved in gambling will face a lower penalty, consisting of a fine of up to SGD1,500.

Under the new bill, the legal age for gambling in Singapore will stay at 21-years-old, except for gambling at Singapore Pools’ physical outlets, where the minimum age will remain 18.

Updates on Las Vegas Sands and Asian American Entertainment

According to GGRAsia, a Macau judge has suggested existing evidence did not prove that Asian American Entertainment Corp had a definitive agreement to tie with Las Vegas Sands Corp for a tilt at a Macau gaming concession.

Evidence for a deal consisted of merely a letter of intent of partnership, which was signed by both parties in October 2001, the judge is quoted as saying.

The court had yet to arrive at a verdict, following further statements from lawyers of each side.

Asian American is being represented by FCLaw Lawyers & Private Notaries’ Jorge Menezes, while Las Vegas Sands’ lawyer is Luis Cavaleiro de Ferreira of CFS – Luís Cavaleiro de Ferreira, Ricardo Silva & Associados.

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