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Macau Legislators Pass Landmark Casino Reform Bill

FILE - People walk in front of Casino Lisboa in Macau, China, Dec. 21, 2019.

Legislators in Macau approved a landmark casino bill on Tuesday, the biggest reforms in more than two decades, ahead of an expected casino license bidding process in the world's biggest gambling hub.

The changes - marking the first major reforms since casinos were first liberalized in 2002 - mean far greater oversight and control by the government into casino operations in Macau.

The vote came as the Chinese special administrative region carries out mass COVID-19 testing of its more than 600,000 population after dozens of locally transmitted cases were found in recent days.

A hotel and casino resort on Macau's main peninsula was locked down by authorities on Tuesday due to a coronavirus infection, with some 700 people forced to quarantine.

Macau's legislature released a final draft of a highly anticipated gaming bill last week, fixing casino tax to 40% from 39% currently and giving officials far greater oversight into casino operations.

The 55-page document, released in Portuguese and Chinese on the legislature's website, comes as the government is due to formally sign a six-month license extension for casino operators this week.