HONG KONG: Seven companies have bid for new casino licenses in the world's biggest gaming hub, with new contracts set to start at the beginning of 2023, Macau's government said on Wednesday (Sep 14).
Macau, a special administrative region of China, is the only place in the country where citizens can legally gamble in casinos.
The government is expected to review the proposals and negotiate with the bidders on detailed terms and conditions, before announcing six winners by the end of November or early December, analysts said.
Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China, SJM Holdings, Melco Resorts and GMM Limited - submitted bids for the tender, the government statement said.
GMM is linked to Malaysian tourism and gambling conglomerate Genting Group, which currently does not have a license in Macau.
DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said the current environment made it challenging for new entrants.
"Time will tell", he said, as it was hard for new entrants to make proper returns during the concession period, which has been shortened to 10 years from 20.
The bidding committee will conduct the bid opening process on Sep 16, the government said.
Macau for the first time imposed a formal table cap and minimum income requirements for the new operators, set to begin their contracts at the start of 2023.
The move is part of a broader overhaul of legislation for Macau's gambling industry and gives authorities much tighter oversight and control over the casino operators, which raked in US$36 billion in 2019, prior to COVID-19.
The government kicked off the highly anticipated bidding process in July, when it said global gaming operators could submit bids for new licenses from Jul 29 until Sep 14.
The bidding process took place amid Macau's worst outbreak of COVID-19, which led to a 12-day closure of casinos in July. While casinos in the Chinese special administrative region have re-opened, there is little business, as restrictions are only being lifted slowly.