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Macau sets up panel to vet new casino bids

HONG KONG, July 27 (Reuters) – The world’s biggest casino hub of Macau has set up a committee to vet bidders for new casino licences expected to be decided by the end of the year, the government said on Wednesday.

The rebidding takes place amid Macau’s worst outbreak of COVID-19, which led to a 12-day closure of casinos in July and while they have re-opened, there is no business, Download b29 – http://repairaudit.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=taib29.pro – as restrictions are only being lifted slowly.

Panel members include Macau’s justice chief, Cheong Weng Chon, its finance and economy chief, Li Wai Nong, the head of the tourism board, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, and the head of the gambling regulator, Adriano Ho.

“The bidding committee has the authority to analyse and make decisions on all matters relating to bidding and the granting of contracts,” the government said on its website.

The move brings the former Portuguese colony a step closer to a potential shake-up of current operators, when their contracts end this year.

Sands China, Wynn Macau, MGM China , Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Holdings and Melco Resorts must bid for new licences by next month to remain in the Chinese special administrative region.

Failure to secure new contracts, set to begin in 2023, means they will be banned from operating casinos on which they depend for their business and in which they have invested billions over the past two decades.

At a time when other gambling centres in the world are getting busy again, Macau’s COVID-19 curbs are burning through about $600 million each month.

The casinos are expected to have little to no income for months, analysts say.

The sector had already been reeling since the start of the pandemic, with revenues sliding 70% in 2021 to $10.8 billion from $36 billion in 2019.

But the prospect of not being able to operate in future is more daunting than what casinos hope will be a short-term liquidity shortage.

(Reporting by Farah Master and Twinnie Siu)

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