Macao awards casino licenses to MGM, Sands, Wynn, 3 others
Macao has tentatively renewed the casino licenses of MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and three Chinese rivals after they promised to help diversify its economy by investing in non-gambling attractions, the government said Saturday.
The announcement is positive news for owners who have invested billions of dollars to build the former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong into the biggest global gambling center. But the requirement to spend on theme parks, music and sports adds to financial pressure at a time when revenue has plunged under anti-virus restrictions.
Regulators will negotiate final terms before licenses take effect Jan. 1, the office of Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced. A seventh bidder, newcomer Genting Group of Malaysia, received no license.
The territory of 700,000 people on a peninsula in the South China Sea is the world's most tourism-dependent economy. It's under pressure from Chinese President Xi Jinping's government to diversify with retailing, entertainment and other industries and to reduce reliance on gamblers from the mainland, its main revenue source.
License applicants promised to fulfill requirements including "exploring overseas customer markets and developing non-gaming projects," a government statement said.