The local media Macaudailytimes reported that the casino operators in Macau are frightened for their license renewals, expected to happen in 2020, as the government embarked on a land reversion hunt enforcing the Macau Land Law. This gave rise to concerns about the possible revocation of the operators’ land rights and their licenses.
It was reported that the government already confiscated more than 100 plots of land from different developers, as they were said to misuse the plot given to them, or use it for other purposes than the reported ones. This unleashed a wave of reluctance by the locals, entrepreneurs and even some legislators, which were frightened by the crackdown. Nevertheless, the protests did not stop the government to continue the process.
This, of course, made casino operators’ blood run cold, as they can also be affected by the land reversion. In an interview with Reuters, a senior casino executive, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained that the government will also target the casino concessions, but it is yet to become clear what will be the future of the currently licensed casino operators and their gaming facilities.
This raised another concern about the future licensing of the casino operators. While most of the Macau’s casino operators preferred to remain silent, others like Melco expressed their opinion on the matter outspokenly. Melco’s chief executive officer and chairman Lawrence Ho placed hopes that the government will spare the proliferating casino industry in the area.
The officials denied that the land plot seizure is related to the renewals of the casino licenses. Furthermore, it was explained that the government does not consider any amendments of the Land Law. The Land Law was amended for the last time in March 2014. Its purpose is to ensure the proper management and development of the land given to concessioners. Under the law, in case that the land is not developed within a given period of time stipulated in a contract, concessions expire and the government is allowed to seize the plot of land.
The local authorities explained that the crackdown aims to stimulate the concessionaire to develop the land and utilize it in a proper way. The developers responded that the government is the main setback in their development plans, referring to the unnecessary bureaucracy and lack of information.
In the meanwhile, casino operators started to mastermind plans to butter themselves up in front of the local officials and win their benevolence. For that purpose, the operators will hire more locals (to decrease the unemployment rate) and support the local business. But the casino operators still seem to be cautious as Reuters reported that they sign only short-term contracts with the new employees.