Macau cancels third public meeting on proposed casino crackdown

The proposal to increase oversight on Macau's casino industry comes as China cracks down on private sectors. PHOTO: AFP

MACAU (BLOOMBERG) - Macau has now cancelled three town hall meetings meant for officials to gauge public opinion on a proposed tightening of casino rules in the world's largest gaming hub, citing Covid-19 flare-ups and a tropical storm.

Local regulators put off a consultation meeting scheduled for Wednesday (Oct 13), citing typhoon Kompasu, as the city raised its warning signal to No. 8, a severe form of storm, expected to be in effect throughout the morning.

It cancelled two previous gatherings, on Oct 9 and Sept 29, citing a resurgence of local virus clusters.

The proposal to increase oversight on Macau's biggest industry comes as China cracks down on private sectors, from technology to education.

It triggered a record US$18 billion (S$24.4 billion) sell-off of local gaming stocks and raised questions about Macau's future as the world's gambling epicentre.

A Bloomberg Intelligence index of the city's six casinos has not recovered, plunging 24 per cent since the announcement on Sept 14.

The plan could be a cornerstone of Beijing's wider push for the enclave - the only place in China where gambling is legal - to diversify and cut its reliance on the gaming industry.

There is just one public session remaining next Tuesday before the 45-day consultation period concludes on Oct 29, and still little clarity on what the new rules will look like.

Officials last month met Macau's gaming operators to discuss the proposed changes to the law - including plans to send government representatives to directly supervise casino companies, allow the authorities to approve dividend distribution and increase local ownership of the gambling firms.

While the authorities said they were open to opinions on the proposed revisions to casino law, the meeting yielded few details on major issues concerning investors.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.