The government of Macau is looking to expand the term of the gaming licenses for 2 of the city’s operators, in a move which will align the license expiration dates of the other 4 casinos in Macau.
Both MGM China and SJM will have their gaming concessions extended until the middle of 2022, which will put them in the same position as the Sands China, Wynn Macau, Melco Casino and Galaxy Entertainment.
According to Macau government officials, the plan has been designed to keep “social stability and job security,” and remove any concerns and uncertainty for outside investors of the establishments and the industry.
The news has also seen each casino receive a jump in share prices since Friday. Though the shares for both MGM and SJM have been suspended for the time being, Melco International saw their shares increase by 4.7%, while Galaxy went up to 4%, Wynn Macau jumped to 3.3% and Sands China is up 2.3%.
The man who helped develop the “gambling capital of the world” is retired casino magnate Stanley Ho, age 97. Mr. Ho also owns the SJM (now run by his family,) and co-chaired the MGM China, now looked after by his daughter Pansy Ho.
An Extension with Conditions
Both MGM and SJM are the 2 operators who would have seen their licenses expire in March 2020 if it wasn’t for the granted expansion. However, the deal does not come without a price, and the two casinos have had to pay 200 million patacas ($24.8 million) each in order to continue offering gambling games within their facilities.
On top of the huge payments, the SJM and MGM are required to make improved adjustments to their employee retirement plans, as well as termination protection for all staff.
The Macau government has not released any further details about what the casino license bidding process will entail past 2022. With fears over an already slowing Chinese economy, investors are said to be nervous and concerned over the current trade tensions between the U.S. and China. Particularly as 3 out of the cities’ 6 prolific casinos are either owned or part-owned by U.S. interests: Wynn Macau, MGM China, and Sands China.
Sands China Settles 15-Year Long Dispute
Also in the news for Macau’s gambling industry; the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp, Sheldon Adelson and Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen, reached the end of a 15-year long breach-of-contract lawsuit on Thursday last week.
The legal battle had been ongoing since 2004, starting when Las Vegas Sands was opting to get a foot in the door within the Chinese gambling market.
At the time, there were no casinos in Macau, and Suen allegedly promised the U.S.-based company that he would aid them in obtaining an operating license for a $5 million “success fee,” on top of a 2% share in the casino’s profits over the license’s 18-year lifespan.
Though there was nothing stated or promised in writing at the time, various testimonies given from both Sands’ side and Suen’s attorneys have now allowed the courts to reach a settlement in the case. Suen’s lawyer told the jurors on Wednesday how he and his company (Round Square Co.) should be eligible for $347 million for assisting Adelson and his executives in retrieving a casino license.
Sand’s attorney Richard Sauber objected this amount and countered with a $3.76 million offer, after accusing Suen of abandoning the deal to go elsewhere in 2001, several years prior to the Sands Macau opening.
But after several trial findings from Macau jurors, and the Nevada Supreme Court ruling that Sands was liable for damages, a new figure was agreed upon last Thursday, one which reflected “an amicable settlement and resolution” on both sides.
Outside of court, the attorneys for each party were said to have called it a fair end to the case. Suen’s lawyer John O’Malley told AP: “Although the dollars are confidential, we’re very pleased. This settlement completely resolves the litigation. There will be no more appeals.”