Seven companies have bid for new casino licenses at the world’s largest gaming center, with new contracts expected to begin in early 2023, the Macau government announced on Wednesday.
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 detailed terms and conditions with bidders, before announcing six winners by late 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, according to the government statement.
GMM is linked to Malaysian tourism and gambling conglomerate Genting Group, which is currently unlicensed in Macau.
DS Kim, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said the current environment made it difficult for new entrants.
“Time will tell,” he said, as it was difficult for new entrants to make proper returns during the concession period, which was shortened from 20 to 10 years.
The bid committee will conduct the bid opening process on September 16, the government said.
Macau has for the first time imposed a formal table cap and minimum income requirements for new operators, who are expected to start their contracts in early 2023.
The move is part of a broader overhaul of Macau’s gambling industry legislation and gives authorities much tighter oversight and control over casino operators, which raked in $36 billion in 2019, before COVID-19.
The government kicked off the much-awaited bidding process in July, when it said global gaming operators could submit bids for new licenses from July 29 to September 14. The bidding process came amid Macau’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, which led to a 12-day casino shutdown in July. While casinos in China’s special administrative region have reopened, there is little business as restrictions are only slowly being lifted.