In an announcement ending months of speculation about the fate of the Macau Jockey Club (MJC), the government said on 15 January 2024 that it was terminating the club’s concession on 1 April.
The land presently occupied by the club, as well as its facilities, will be returned to the government.
During a press conference, the Secretary for Administration and Justice, Cheong Weng Chon, acknowledged the MJC’s 40-year history but said that the club had lost its appeal to residents and visitors.
He noted that the MJC had been severely impacted by the economy and the three-year-long Covid-19 pandemic, and that it showed no signs of being able to effectively operate.
In response to a journalist’s question about the club’s employees, a government representative noted that there were currently 254 local residents and 361 foreign nationals working for the MJC and that they would receive severance pay.
The government’s announcement does not come as a surprise. The MJC has been beset by problems over the last two decades and announced accumulated losses of 2.1 billion patacas in 2022.
The club’s weak financial position meant that it had to substantially cut down the number of races from a peak of 15 races per day to just five races per day in recent weeks.
It also brought a halt to the import of fresh horses, pre-race trackwork and overseas betting.
Cheong said that the termination of the concession would not have a significant impact on the government’s revenue, and that it had no plans to offer any more tenders for horse racing in the future.
The original 24-year lease agreement between the government and the MJC was signed in 2018. In return for the concession, the MJC was required to invest billions of patacas towards refurbishing its infrastructure and expanding its offerings but failed to do so.
Legislators have frequently suggested that the MJC be transformed into a facility for international sports events. Cheong said that research would now be conducted on possible future usage of the site.