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Macau Casinos: dedicated areas for foreigners

Macau wants to welcome more foreign players to its land-based casinos in the future. That’s precisely why the local government is going to introduce a tax break on income generated by passport holders from outside the Chinese world.

In order to help determine the amount of this revenue, it was announced on Friday, December 9 that Macanese casinos will be required to create exclusive gaming areas for foreign players with dedicated chips.

Tax break reserved for revenue generated in areas dedicated to foreigners

The term foreign players refers to all the clients of Macau casino hotels who come from outside the Chinese world. The latter includes mainland China of course, but also Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.

To push operators to target these players, the government of the former Portuguese colony has already announced that it intends to implement a tax break on the revenue generated by this clientele. For the moment, the exact percentage has not yet been disclosed. We only know that it can reach up to 5%.

During a press conference held on Friday, December 9, 2022, the director of the regulatory authority (Adriano Marques Ho) announced that concessionaires will be required to set up special gaming areas reserved for foreigners and that the tax break will only apply to revenue generated in these areas.

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A measure that may prove ineffective

Although on paper this decision may seem interesting for Macau casinos, it has been greeted with a certain skepticism by most analysts. Indeed, it should be known that foreigners represent only 7.78% of the customers. Moreover, they bet much less than Chinese players.

As a result, the revenue they generate represents only an extremely small percentage in the results of the establishments in this special administrative region of China. During 2019, for example, even before the international Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, they accounted for only 3.58% of this industry’s revenue.

And then, let’s face it: few players are likely to want to go to these foreigner-only areas. There are likely to be few traditional tables and slot machines in these areas.

However, players usually like to change regularly until they finally find a game that suits them. And since these areas are likely to be deserted, it is unlikely that operators will go out of their way to make them attractive.

Some experts estimate that this new regulation, which is scheduled to take effect at the same time as the next licenses, i.e., January 1, 2023, would save each dealer an average of only $1.8 million a year.

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That’s only 0.06% of their average gross gaming revenue. Yet operators will have to spend a lot of money to set up and operate these foreigner-only areas.

In short, there is little chance that this tax break will prove effective.

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