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Macau calls off third public meeting on proposed gambling review, only one left



acau has canceled its third public meeting on a proposed gambling review. The consultation was meant to take place so officials could assess public opinion on tightened casino rules in the Chinese gaming hub.

Local regulators put off the meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, citing typhoon Kompasu as the main reason for doing so, reports Bloomberg. The tropical storm has seen the city raising its warning signal to No. 8, indicating a severe form of storm.

The Chinese enclave had previously canceled two other gatherings, slated for October 9 and September 29. On those two instances, Macau officials cited Covid-19 flare-ups as the reason behind the postponements. There is only one public session remaining, next Tuesday, before the 45-day consultation period concludes on October 29.

Upon calling off the public session, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said it would schedule a new session “as soon as possible.” However, the city’s government has said it will not extend the public consultation period. Meanwhile, community members can submit opinions on the gaming law revision in writing, said Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong.

So far, only a first face-to-face consultation session has been held, on September 20, but aimed at gaming industry representatives instead of the general public. During said meeting, casino operators in Macau asked authorities for clarity on the proposed new gambling laws.

There still remains uncertainty on what the new set of rules will look like. The proposed update comes as China cracks down on private sectors, ranging from technology to education. Analysts have raised concerns about Macau’s future as the world’s largest gaming hub.

The new legal revisions include how many casino licenses will be allowed, how long will they last, and plans to send government representatives to directly supervise casino companies. It is also being considered allowing authorities to approve dividend distribution, as well as increasing local ownership of the gambling firms.

The Macau Government said in late September that it is expecting “a sharp drop” in gaming revenues in the enclave by the end of the year, mostly due to the ongoing pandemic. The detection of cases in August and September frustrated the recovery of what is the driving force of the territory’s economy.

Macau’s gaming revenues fell 47.4% in August, while in September, as a result of the announced regulations, casino stocks in Macau fluctuated, dropping a record $18 billion on September 15. That same month Macau briefly went into a “state of immediate prevention,” with massive testing of the population after authorities deemed the territory was “at risk of experiencing a community outbreak” of Covid-19.

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