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Seven gaming companies lined up for licenses in Macao, only six available

Seven gaming companies will vie for six operational licenses in Macao, but at least one analyst expects all of the competitors will end up getting a piece of the action.

The government of Macao on Friday announced six existing concessionaires — Las Vegas Sands Corp., Wynn Resorts Ltd., MGM Resorts International, and Chinese operators SJM Resorts Ltd., Galaxy Casino Co. Ltd. and Melco Resorts Ltd. — submitted their public tender bids by the Wednesday deadline. In addition, the Genting Group, developer of resort properties in Malaysia, Singapore, New York and the operator of Resorts World Las Vegas on the Strip, also submitted a bid.

Macao’s government will have until the end of the year to determine which companies will be entitled to operate casinos there for the next 10 years beginning Jan. 1.

Sands, the market leader in Macao, issued a statement upon its submission last week.

“No one has been a bigger believer in Macao’s long-term success as a leisure and business tourist destination than we have,” Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein said in the statement.

“Investments in our world-class assets, our team members and the local community are a testament to our overall commitment to Macao and this tender submission reiterates our longstanding strategy of continuous investment in Macao. On behalf of our 25,000 team members in Macao, senior management, our boards of directors and the Adelson family, we are honored to have submitted our application and look forward to continuing the wonderful partnership we have had with the people of Macao for the last two decades.”

Representatives of Wynn Resorts and MGM had no further comment on their submissions.

Macao has struggled over the past 2 1/2 years with shutdowns and restrictions, resulting from COVID-19 health and safety procedures. China has advocated a zero-COVID policy meaning that residents and visitors are required to quarantine as a precaution.

COVID-19 restrictions in Macao have damaged the region’s economy to the point that gross gaming revenue from the Strip is expected to surpass Macao in 2022 and analysts believe it may take years for the Chinese enclave to recover.

Regardless of recent history, the three Las Vegas companies operating in Macao remain dedicated to operating there.

Andrew Klebanow, co-founder of C3 Gaming and an analyst with Las Vegas-based Klebanow Consulting, said Genting waited to the last possible minute to submit its application for a concession.

Genting, he said, has long aspired to enter the Macao market and was one of the rejected vendors for a concession when the Chinese opened the market in 2002.

In the initial selection of casino vendors, the government of Macao chose Wynn, Galaxy and SJM to operate. Eventually, the government allowed each concessionaire to partner with a subconcession. Galaxy selected Las Vegas Sands, Wynn chose Melco and SJM picked MGM to operate as partners.

Under the new regulations developed earlier this year, the government said each operator would be a concession without the subconcession category. That precedence of the government allowing a new partner is why Klebenow believes Genting will become a new operator in Macao.

“Would the government reject one of the existing operators in order to bring in a new operator? The answer is no, they’re not going to do that,” Klebenow said.

Such a move would send a bad message to the world about doing business in China, he said.

But it’s still possible the Chinese government could boot one of the existing concessionaires in favor of Genting.

Genting has made strides in gaming since being rejected by the Chinese in Macao in 2002. In 2006, the company won one of two concessions to develop in Singapore. They’ve built theme parks — something the Chinese government wants to see in Macao — in Singapore and at Genting Highlands in Malaysia and successfully developed its casino-resort in Las Vegas.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Las Vegas Sands President and COO Patrick Dumont.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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