After much debate and speculation, the government of Macau has reportedly announced that it is planning to grant six companies the ability to run casinos under concessions with a ten-year term.

According to a report from the Reuters news service published by the Financial Post newspaper, the revelation comes as the concessions for the former Portuguese enclave’s existing club of six licensed casino operators are set to expire in June. The source detailed that the update has ended concerns that the local government would be looking to fundamentally alter the status quo for what has grown to become the world’s most lucrative land-based gambling market.

Permit proposition:

Macau is home to over 40 casinos operated by SJM Holdings Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, MGM China Holdings Limited and the local Sands China Limited and Wynn Macau Limited subordinates of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Wynn Resorts Limited respectively. However, these firm’s will now reportedly be required to bid for the right to have their existing 20-year licenses extended by a further decade although no details on how this fresh tendering process will run or when it is to take place have yet been released.

Control change:

Reuters reported that the government for the China-controlled territory disclosed that it has furthermore decided not to pursue with an earlier proposal that was to have seen officials from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau regulator directly supervise all local casinos. The source explained that this change of heart was instituted following consultation with the city’s six operators although area police forces and watchdogs are to continue their efforts at stamping out money laundering and illicit cash transfers.

Operator obligations:

Nevertheless, the news service reported that Macau is to continue encouraging its array of casinos not to utilize junket firms, which receive a commission for attracting wealthy foreign gamblers, while requiring all new license applicants to up their minimum individual capital commitments from about $25 million to approximately $623 million. The source noted that this latter stipulation will be joined by a condition that a locally-headquartered person hold from between 10% and 15% of any concessionaire’s interests.

Investor interest:

Finally, Reuters reported that the value of individual shares in the six existing Macau operators took a hammering in September after the local government revealed that it was to conduct a 45-day public consultation on the long-term future of the city’s gambling market. This campaign purportedly asked residents to comment on proposals covering nine areas including the number of licenses and employee welfare as well as the prospect of having a representative from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau put in charge of day-to-day casino operations.