Macau Gov’t Terminates Macau Jockey Club Concession
MACAU, SAR (January 15, 2024) — As many as 570 employees of the Macau Jockey Club are facing the prospect of dismissal or job changes after Macau authorities stripped the horse racing operator of the concession right to run its business until 2042.
The Macau News Agency reports that at a press conference held on Monday morning, the Secretary for Administration and Justice, André Cheong Weng Chon, announced that the Macau Jockey Club had reached a conclusion with the government that its concession would end on 1 April 2024.
“The Macau government has conducted a comprehensive analysis and determined that horse racing operations have not yielded the intended socio-economic benefits,” said the secretary. “Following the expiration of the contract, there will be no further public tendering for the operation.”
Under the arrangements made by the two sides, which began their negotiations at the middle of last year, all the existing facilities and land currently possessed by the horse racing operator will then unconditionally return to the government.
Subsequently, nearly 290 horses are set to be transferred to the Chinese mainland or other countries for follow-up arrangements, no later than 31 March 2025.
“Horse racing is a waning industry in Macau, as well as in some neighboring regions. In 2021, there was an average daily visitor count of 701, but that number decreased to only 492 per day last year,” added Cheong, referring to Singapore, whose government announced in June last year that it was turning its back on horse racing with a 180-year history.
The Lion City will no longer engage in the sporting activity after October this year when its last race is held.
“The operator has found itself struggling financially since the end of the Covid pandemic,” said the secretary. “That’s why they filed a request with the government to end the contract.”
According to official records, 2023 saw MOP140 million (US$17.4 million) in bets only.
Gross revenue for the first nine months of the year stood at MOP32 million, a 14 percent increase compared to the same period of 2022 when the city was under stringent Covid restrictions.
However, the figure appeared to be only 43 percent of the pre-pandemic level observed in 2019.
In 2018, the Macau Jockey Club was granted a 24-year extension to its concession until August 2042 following negotiations with the government.
This was on the condition that the club would pour MOP1.5 billion in stages into an upgrade project to drive the city’s economic diversification.
However, the horse racing operator could only realise 66 percent, or MOP1 billion, as of the end of last year.
Despite failing to accomplish its contractual goals, the Macau Jockey Club will not face any punishment or penalty under the agreement reached in 2018.
“Different from other gambling activities, horse racing is not covered by comprehensive contractual regulations,” Cheong pointed out.
Speaking of the financial hardship faced by the horse racing operator, Adriano Marques Ho, the director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told the media that the club had already paid off all the taxes it owed the government, amounting to about MOP150 million in total.
SOURCE: Macau News Agency,Tags: Macau SAR, Macau Jockey Club