How US casino operators got caught in the US-China feud
Macau is expected to supply new casino adjustments next year. The operating licenses, technically, cannot be renewed because of the city’s gaming laws, but there has been little concern that existing operators would be at risk of losing their licenses.
Nonetheless, there is growing concern that China may try to tighten its grip over Macau and its gaming industry, which could potentially end up affecting U.S. gaming operators who have a presence in the city as they turn into unwilling pawns in the ongoing battle between China and the United States.
City University of Macau Associate Professor Priscilla Roberts believes that these modifications might be used as a tactic by China to apply more pressure on the U.S. Casino operators such as the Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts who have a well-established presence in the city with millions of dollars at stake.
Roberts stated during an event hosted by the France Macau Chamber of Commerce yesterday that the current trade war between China and the U.S. could possibly see China holding those concessions as a bargaining chip to get its way.
She explained in her discussion, “America´s New President: A Turning Point for U.S./China Relations?,” “I think it’s quite possible that American casinos will no longer be as welcome in Macau” after the concessions expire. She added: “There may be some pressure for the casinos to be more China operated, which may be an opening for localization, so to speak.”
Roberts also thinks that China can attempt to sway Macau in a way that would insinuate its willingness to kick out U.S. gaming operators if the U.S. doesn’t twist further as it pleases.
The countdown towards the granting of new concessions continues, with existing agreements supposed to expire in June of 2022. Despite that fact, there has already been a lot of talk that a delay in issuing new concessions might be on the horizon, considering that updated gambling laws have to be introduced before the agreements are even discussed.
Such changes might come this year, despite a new Legislative Assembly coming into Macau, but there is still more work that needs to be completed before they could be imposed.
With China setting up efforts to crack down on gambling, and given its takeover of how Hong Kong is run, exerting more control over operations in Macau is not out of the question. Everyone is waiting to find out what could possibly be in the cards over the next 12 months for Macau’s gaming sector.