Macau introduces casino play zones for foreign players, offers up to 5% tax relief for attracting overseas customers

Following the recent announcement of Macau’s authorities that this Chinese Administrative Region would be gradually opening up for visitors from abroad and from mainland China,  Macau is to create distinct zones on its casino floors and designated gambling chips that will be solely used by players from overseas.

New gaming tax system:

This decision represents a part of the new gaming tax system effective from January 1 anticipating the 40 percent government levy on gross gaming revenue (GGR). However, casino operators could expect up to 5 percent relief within the scope of the proposed gaming tax system, with such exemption applicable to GGR generated by foreigner players coming outside of mainland China, Macau, Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

Adriano Marques Ho, director of the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, used Friday’s media briefing to give more detail about relevant administrative regulations and the Macau’s latest gaming law in the region’s attempt to put the foreign-player incentive policy into practice.

Tax relief:

In this sense, the law foresees that respective chief executives may, at own discretion, reduce the effective tax rate on casino GGR for “reasons of public interest” justified by attracting “customers from foreign countries”.

Ho noted the special gaming chips proposed for the use of foreign players would help the government “calculate the gross gaming revenue generated” from those specific players. However, he provided no detail as to the limit required to trigger the tax relief for the revenue generated by foreign players.

Special playing zones:

But Ho explained: “For the foreigner patrons that gamble in the casinos here, they will have special zones set up for their play. As they are foreigner-passport holders, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau will have guidelines for casino concessionaires on what is considered a foreigner patron that is admissible to these special gambling zones.”

Secretary for Administration and Justice, Andre Cheong Weng Chon, said at the briefing that Macau had been excessivelly dependent on local and mainland Chinese players. Therefore the authorities have created a tax relief for casino operators to attract overseas players and alleviate the costs of Macau operators’ attempts to draw such players.

Attracting foreign players:

According to the administration, the cost for attracting overseas customers according is high. It might require operators “setting up overseas offices, private jet services for certain high-end customers, and other supporting hotel services for them,” said Cheong.

Director of Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, Ho, also said that in the pre-pandemic year of 2019, 3.58 percent of its $36.5 billion gross revenue was generated by foreign players. Therefore the tax incentive is introduced to compensate the casino operators’ costs to win overseas clients and bring Macau gambling to the levels expected since 2019.

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