Macau gambling jitters as review pends

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Changes to the gambling regulations in Macau are causing concern that there may be fresh and stronger supervision over the companies operating there.


As a result, this week has seen some of the industry’s biggest Macau operators shedding value on the Hong Kong stock market, together losing around $18bn.

Adding to the complications is the pending rebidding for the Macau operating licences that is coming next year.

Wynn Macau, Sands China and Melco all saw their market valuations plummet by as much as 30 per cent on Wednesday and further changes yesterday saw more losses – up to 13 per cent.

Lei Wai Nong, secretary for economy and finance in Macau, has given notice that there is to be a 45-day consultancy period on the gambling industry, suggesting that there is some laxity in the supervision of the industry.

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In a news conference on Tuesday, Lai pointed to nine areas of concern. They include the number of licences, more regulation and better employee welfare and the prospect of having government officers supervise the day-to-day operations of the zone’s casinos.

There have been some unsavoury incidents in recent years surrounding casinos in the territory, notably over illegal cash transfers and unregulated lending. Currently, the casinos are back in operation but volumes are still not up to the 2019 levels.

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