Trump’s Executive Order May Mean Trouble for Macau’s US-Owned Casinos

The three US casino operators in Macau may be facing difficulties after outgoing President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned a number of Chinese apps, including WeChat Pay and Alipay.

It means that transactions between US-based individuals or companies and the apps may be banned. It also means that the apps may have to be removed from Apple and Google’s US app stores. The executive order justified the ban by claiming that the rapid uptake of technology controlled by the People’s Republic of China is a threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the US.

However, the executive order may not ever come into effect, as incoming President Joe Biden will have the power to reverse it once he takes office later this month. Furthermore, the order may also be challenged in court, such as previous ones that banned WeChat and TikTok.

On the other hand, if the order does come into effect, it could have significant repercussions for US-owned operators in Macau, namely Sands China (HKG: 1928), MGM China (HKG: 2282), and Wynn Macau Ltd (HKG: 1128). Theoretically, it could prevent players at the casinos from making payments using the highly popular apps.

Victoria White, Special Counsel at Macau law firm MdME, has explained that under the order, any payments with the apps that involve an entity subject to US jurisdiction will be illegal. This includes foreign branches of US companies, such as the gambling operators.

José Álvares partner at Macau’s CA Lawyers

Similarly, a partner at Macau’s CA Lawyers, José Álvares, has said that it is essential that Biden’s administration works at repairing relationships between the US and China. Speaking to Inside Asian Gaming (IAG), he said, “The outlook of a failure could imply further entrenchment by both sides that could risk spilling over, and, let us not get lost in thoughts, Macau is an integral part of China. I would say, however, that it is far from ideal to Macau – we benefit from the presence of different business ideas, to a great extent, a result of a multicultural environment that breeds herein.”

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