Macau passes law allowing casinos to extend credits to gamblers


MACAU – Macau’s legislature has passed a law allowing casinos to extend credit to gamblers, clearing one hurdle that has held back a Las Vegas tycoon’s plans to move into the market.

Ng Kuok-cheong said Wednesday the law was passed unanimously on Monday and is expected to take effect by July 1.

Analysts said the new law likely will prompt Las Vegas casino boss Steve Wynn to begin construction of his planned megaresort.

Wynn won one of Macau’s three gaming licenses when the enclave decided in 2002 to end a monopoly that had been held for four decades by Hong Kong casino mogul Stanley Ho.

But Wynn had threatened earlier to call off his investment if Macau failed to pass the credit law. Many gamblers in Macau borrow money from loan sharks who hang out around the casinos, but Las Vegas operators have long brought in much business by extending credit.

Wynn also has been seeking tax concessions from the Macau government, but Ng told The Associated Press the legislature has no plans to pass any such laws.

Macau got its first casino competition last month when Las Vegas operator Sheldon Adelson opened a new one, the Sands, with promises of more development in an outlying area that Adelson envisions as an Asian version of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

The casino credit legislation might attract business from another Las Vegas company, MGM Mirage, which owns and operates several hotel-casinos in Las Vegas but lost a bid for a license in Macau.

MGM Mirage had said it was in talks with Ho’s daughter, Pansy Ho, but that no agreement has yet been reached. The Associated Press rang Pansy Ho’s office on Wednesday but was told by a secretary she was unavailable for comment.

Macau is a former Portuguese colony about 40 miles west of Hong Kong. It was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999.

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