Gambling giant Macau opens bids from seven casinos, Genting a wildcard

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HONG KONG — Macau’s government on Friday opened bids from seven companies, including a wild card from Malaysian operator Genting, for licenses to operate casinos in the world’s biggest gambling hub, kicking off a closely watched battle close by six available slots.

Top Macau officials, including the city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong and Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong, attended the opening along with senior executives from Macau’s Las Vegas Sands casinos Macau unit Sands China, Wynn Macau and MGM China.

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The six current Macau players, which also include Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Resorts and SJM Holding, submitted the bids before the deadline on Wednesday along with GMM Limited, a holding company of Genting Group Chairman Sri Lim Kok Thay, which does not operate casinos in Macau. .

GMM’s application was seen as a surprise to many executives and analysts, with some saying it brought additional uncertainty to local operators.

Genting would have been encouraged to apply and would be a good choice as they are the only applicant operator with a strong background in theme parks, said Ben Lee, founder of Macau gaming consultancy IGamiX .

“There’s a chance they could topple one of the incumbents. They (Genting) think so too, otherwise they wouldn’t have proposed a HK$10m ($1.27m) buyout bid.

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Genting operates casinos in Singapore, Malaysia, the United States and Britain and has extensive non-gaming operations, a key priority for the Macau government. It has also made a number of investments in China, including a prime ski resort that hosted the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

The industry has been reeling since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with revenue falling 70% in 2021 to $10.8 billion from $36 billion in 2019.

Macau’s new casino licenses are expected to start in 2023 and are crucial for the six incumbents to continue operating their multibillion-dollar properties. They have collectively invested about $40 billion in Macau since casinos were liberalized more than 20 years ago.

All the companies submitted their bids in person via two large stacks of paper files, transported on trolleys, to the government on Wednesday, according to footage from public broadcaster TDM. They had to pay HK$10 million to apply.

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The tender comes as Macau’s casinos have been hit by travel restrictions and ongoing travel restrictions. Authorities have also tightened control over gambling operations in the former Portuguese colony through new legislation.


The number of licenses awarded will not change from 6, said Justice Secretary Cheong before the opening of bids. The government will review the proposals and negotiate with bidders before announcing the winners before the end of the year, he said.

Analysts expect the results to arrive in late November or early December.

For the bids, companies must show “special consideration… for developing overseas tourism markets, experience in operating casino games, investment in gaming and non-gaming projects for the benefit of Macau, plans to manage the casino, plans to control and prevent illegal activities and social responsibilities”. ”, according to a statement on the government website.

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Genting Malaysia confirmed that its indirect subsidiary GMM submitted an offer to the Macau government in a statement to the Malaysian stock exchange on 15 September.

The move is an opportunity to “expand its business in the leisure and hospitality sector, diversify its geographic footprint and participate in the recovery prospects” in Macau.

Genting applied for a Macau license more than two decades ago, but was unsuccessful. Since 2020, construction has begun on a hotel in the south of the main Macao peninsula. It is scheduled to open later this year.

Genting will still be able to operate its resort hotel even if it does not win a new casino license, according to Macau laws.

($1 = HK$7.8478) (Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kim Coghill)



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