Land-based gambling

Types

What types of land-based gambling are permitted in your jurisdiction, and is gambling regulated at a national or subnational level?

The commercial operation of gambling services in Macao is statutorily reserved to the government. It may only be pursued by privately owned entities that have been awarded a concession to that effect, by entering a concession contract with the government.

The government has entered concession contracts with operators to provide the following gambling services:

  • casino gambling - there are currently three concessionaires (Sociedade de Jogos de Macau SA (SJM), Wynn Resorts (Macao) SA and Galaxy Casino SA) and three sub-concessionaires (Venetian Macao SA, MGM Grand Paradise SA and Melco Resorts (Macao) SA) allowed to offer games of chance in casinos (in the form of table games and electronic gaming machines);
  • sports betting - sports betting (in soccer and basketball) is pursued on an exclusive basis by one single operator, Sociedade de Lotarias e Apostas Mútuas de Macao (SLOT);
  • horse race betting - betting on horse races is offered on an exclusive basis by the Macao Horse Racing Company Limited; and
  • lottery - the operation of lotteries in Macao is allowed both in the form of an instant lottery and in the form of a Chinese lottery (popularly known as Pacapio). Instant lotteries are operated on an exclusive basis by SLOT. The Chinese lottery is also operated on an exclusive basis by Sociedade de Lotarias Wing Hing Limitada.
Establishment licensing

Please describe the licensing criteria to operate land-based gambling of each type or classification. Does your jurisdiction limit the number of available licences?

The commercial operation of casino games of chance (either in the form of table games or gaming machines) can only be pursued by one of the three operators that were granted a gaming concession following an international public tender launched in 2001 and governed by the International Gaming Tender Regulation (Regulation No. 26/2001). Subsequently, the Macao government authorised these concessionaires to enter into one sub-concession agreement each, therefore raising the total number of casino operators to six.

All concession and sub-concession contracts are due to expire on 2022. Until then, the casino market is closed to new concessionaires.

The granting of gaming concessions is made through a public tender launched by the government. The rules of the first (and only) public tender launched since the approval of the Macao Gaming Law were set out in Regulation No. 26/2001 and in the Chief Executive’s Decision No. 217/2001, which officially opened the tender. In this tender, the bidders, their qualified shareholders (that is, shareholders holding, directly or indirectly, 5 per cent or more of the company’s share capital), and their directors and key employees, were subject to a suitability investigation conducted by the DICJ, which verified their experience, reputation and probity. The bidders and their qualified shareholders also had to demonstrate an adequate financial capacity and were subject to investigations into their financial background. The bidders covered all costs incurred for the suitability and financial investigations, which were deducted from their bidding bonds set at 1 million patacas (approximate equivalent of US$125,000).

Only joint stock companies incorporated under the laws of Macao that have the operation of games of chance as their exclusive scope of business can bid for a casino concession. At least 10 per cent of the registered share capital of a casino concessionaire and of a casino sub-concessionaire must be held by its managing director, who must be a permanent resident of Macao.

A special committee appointed by the Macao Chief Executive conducted the public tender. A tender programme defined the minimum requirements of qualification, the information the bidders were expected to disclose and the mandatory elements of the proposals to be submitted.

The 2001 tender (for which a total of 18 bidders qualified) led to the award of the three casino concessions that are currently in force. The awarding criteria were the following:

  • total concession premium amount offered;
  • amount offered as contribution to a public foundation for the promotion of the cultural, scientific, social, economic and educational development of Macao;
  • amount offered as contribution to the urban development, tourism promotion and social security of Macao;
  • operational experience;
  • investment project;
  • development of casino premises and contribution to tourism diversification; and
  • contribution to the creation of jobs in the gaming industry and to the training of its professionals.

Pari-mutuels and operations offered to the public were granted on an exclusive basis to a single operator (see question 9).

For details on interactive gaming, see question 16.

Director, officer and owner licensing

Must individual directors, officers or owners of licensees also be licensed or reviewed for suitability?

Yes. Under the Gaming Law and the gaming concession contracts, the gaming concessionaire, its qualified shareholders (that is, shareholders holding, directly or indirectly, 5 per cent or more of the company’s share capital), directors and key employees, are subject to a suitability investigation conducted by the DICJ, which verifies their experience, reputation and probity. These entities or individuals, and also the gaming concessionaire, shall remain suitable throughout the concession period.

Also, the management company (that may take over management duties in relation to the gaming concessionaire) and its directors and key employees are subject to the same obligations.

The verification of the suitability process consists of the analysis of the reputation and experience (and character, where applicable) of the entities or individuals identified above. They are further subject to continuous and long-term supervision and control of the government.

Location

May a gambling location be part of a resort, restaurant or other multi-purpose location? What limitations apply?

The Gaming Law defines ‘casino’ as a place authorised by the Macao government for such gambling purposes (see question 27). Such specific location may be located within a resort, hotel or other multi-purpose location.

However, there are some specific conditions under which gambling is permitted outside casinos, as for situations of vessels, aircraft and at the Macao International Airport.

Passive/institutional ownership

Are there provisions for passive or institutional ownership that allow for exemption or modification of licensing requirements?

Not applicable.

Responsible gambling

What responsible gambling obligations apply to licensees?

Following the enactment of Law No. 10/2012 (subsequently amended by Law No. 17/2018) (which determines the restrictions to participation), the DICJ has implemented ‘self-exclusion’ and ‘third-party exclusion’ procedures. Casino concessionaires must set up adequate control procedures to ensure compliance with the statutory restrictions to participation.

Pursuant to the new amendments of the Gaming Participation Law (Law No. 10/2012 subsequently amended by Law No. 17/2018), from 27 December 2019 onwards, when off-duty, the employees of a casino concessionaire are banned from entering into casinos, including the staff that are not directly involved with gaming operations, such as cashiers, cage staff, food and beverage outlet workers, cleaners and those connected to surveillance operations.

Taxes

What type of tax and what tax rate applies to each form of lawful land-based gambling activity?

For players, winnings from gambling activities are not taxable.

The gaming concessionaires and sub-concessionaires shall pay a special gaming tax of 35 per cent, which is levied on the gross operating revenues of the game. Furthermore, they must pay the following contributions to:

  • the Macao Foundation, a public foundation responsible for promoting the cultural, scientific, social, economic and educational development of Macao (1.6 per cent of gross gaming revenue); and
  • the government for urban development, tourism promotion and social security (2.4 per cent of gross gaming revenue for all casino concessionaires except SJM, which, for historical reasons related to services provided to the government, is subject to a 1.4 per cent rate).

Although casino concessionaires are legally subject to profit tax (locally named complementary tax), they have been historically exempted from payment pursuant to an order of the Chief Executive issued under the provisions of the Macao Gaming Law.

Casino concessionaires must also pay an annual concession premium comprising:

  • a fixed amount of 30 million patacas (about US$3.8 million); and
  • a variable amount levied on the number of table games and gaming machines at the following approximate rates:
    • for each VIP table game: 300,000 patacas (about US$37,500);
    • for each mass-market table game: 150,000 patacas (about US$18,800); and
    • for each gaming machine: 1,000 patacas (about US$125).

As to the other forms of land-based gambling activity identified in question 1, the type of taxes and other levies applicable depends on respective concession contracts.