Asia round-up: Macau’s railroad to regulations; Marina Bay Sands & more

By Louis Thompsett

Macau’s AL in favour of new bill to regulate junkets and satellites 

A new bill created by the Macanese Government, titled Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos, has passed its first reading since being handed over to Macau’s Legislative Assembly (AL). 

The new bill is intended to regulate the business conditions of junkets and satellite casinos operating in Macau. Junkets will no longer be able to accept cash or chip deposits, for example, and satellite casinos must be solely managed by one of Macau’s six concessionaires.  

Many junkets and satellite businesses have already begun to disband, or turn tail and run from Macau's perpetual momentum towards greater legislation. 

High-profile junkets such as Suncity have, in recent months, posted dire financial revenue and operating figures. It remains to be seen just how long Macau’s junkets will be able to survive once new regulations are put into action. 

What’s more, the Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos bill is just one in a string of new legislative pieces slated to pass through Macau’s AL. It is hoped all new legislation can be passed by June, when these new amendments to Macau’s gaming law are due to be enacted. 

Upon first reading, the bill received 30 votes in favour and one vote against.  

It would seem Macau’s remaining junkets and satellite operators will need to rely on Ron Lam U Tou to overhaul the vote. The AL member claimed it was unclear what the Government had proposed in its bill, saying junket and satellite operating figures had not been “explained clearly.”  

However, despite his vote against the bill, it remains a highly tall order to reverse Macau’s mounting momentum towards new gaming laws this June.  

Marina Bay Sands licence renewed until 2025 

Marina Bay Sands has seen its licence renewed for three years until 26 April 2025 by Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).  

In a message released on its webpage, the CRA stated that Marina Bay Sands (MBS) fulfilled the renewal “requirements set out under Section 45 of the Casino Control Act (CCA).” 

This is good news for Las Vegas-owned MBS, whose integrated resort is a landmark in Singapore’s cityscape. It should put to bed any hold-ups to MBS’ plans for a major expansion at its IR, which is slated to cost US$3.3bn. 

The casino industry in Singapore is currently undergoing a wide-ranging overhaul, with the country’s Gambling Regulatory Authority having recently passed a string of new legislative bills.  

“This momentous occasion heralds the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry. With more places now under Alert Level 1 status, we expect more tourism activity in the coming months” Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Secretary of the Philippines

These overhauls will include the reconstitution of the CRA, which is set to merge with the GRA to form a singular regulatory body for all types of gambling in Singapore.  

A new Amendment Bill from Casino Control will also look to enhance the GRA’s power for regulatory control over Singaporean casinos. 

Hotel Okura opened by Resorts World Manila 

Resorts World Manila (RWM) has opened Hotel Okura, its new 190-room luxury hotel. This is the first property under Okura Nikko Hotels to be based in the Philippines.  

The new hotel is just one part of RWM’s extensive expansion plans. These plans have already seen the completed construction of the Sheraton Manila Hotel and Hilton Manila.  

The hotel will consist of 190 rooms over 11 stories, with a fine dining restaurant and lobby-based rock garden comprising some of Hotel Okura’s standout features.  

The news comes in the same week that the Philippines announced the end of all lockdowns across the country, for the first since March 2020. What’s more, the news comes two months after the country opened its borders to foreign travel. 

Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Tourism Secretary of the Philippines, has spoken about the RWM’s latest hotel addition and what it means for the country’s tourism sector. 

She said: “This momentous occasion heralds the recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry. With more places now under Alert Level 1 status, we expect more tourism activity in the coming months.” 

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