SJM Holdings has a license to operate casinos in Macau until 2020. However, the company’s CEO, Ambrose So Shu Fai, has confirmed that the company will look to solicit a two-year extension early. The move, So told Macau-based reporters, will give the firm the ability to compete for gaming rights in the gambling enclave “at the same pace” as four other operators in the city. Those four operators hold licenses that don’t expire until 2022.
So commented on the extension during the launch of the “Macau Gaming History Gallery” at the Hotel Lisboa, although he pointed out that the company has yet to formally make a request to the Macau government. The gaming gallery displays an array of historically significant gaming equipment, some of which dates to the early 1970s when STDM, SJM Holdings’ parent company, held a monopoly on gaming licenses. At the time, STDM was run by the group’s founder, Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
So pointed out, “…it is clear that a new legislation will be required if the extension of a licence of an existing concessionaire is over five years [in length]. This is the issue that the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has mentioned before.”
According to Macau gaming laws, licenses for existing holders are allowed to be extended for up to five years from the original expiration date. However, if a gaming license expires, any new concession can only be granted through a public tender. This, in the opinion of some gaming lawyers, means that there doesn’t exist a true “concession renewal.”
So further indicated that the two-year extension was reasonable—SJM Holdings is prepared to open its first resort in Cotai, the $4.6-billion Grand Lisboa Palace in the second half of 2019. “It is a normal thought that everyone can cast the bid [for a gaming concession] at the same pace,” explained So, “…for us, of course we would like to see it [a two-year extension] happen, and we’re very much interested to cast a bid. With so much having been invested in the Grand Lisboa Palace project, we have to be able to answer our shareholders regarding how the business will continue to operate in the future.”