The company managing the Donald Trump brand moved to protect its name in Macau, the area of China that surpassed the Las Vegas strip to become the largest gambling market in the world.
This move does not indicate necessarily that the Trump Organization or President Trump will one day open a Trump casino or hotel in Macau. However, the continuing efforts to expand the Trump trademarks overseas raises questions of whether they are afoul of the constitutional prohibition on being given economic benefits from any foreign governments.
Since becoming president after winning the election in November of 2016, Trump turned over the control of his different businesses to his sons and his legal team said the businesses were not pursuing any new foreign deals.
New York based DTTM Operations holds the Trump trademarks, and in June applied for the rights to Trump’s name in construction, real estate, casinos, and hotels, according to governmental filings in Macau.
It remains unclear whether those applications were for protections for new trademarks or renewals of others that date as far back as 2006 that expired.
The company holds at present over a dozen trademarks inside Macau. In 2016, Trump won his legal battle with a company in Macau that registered to use “Trump” in restaurants and coffee shops.
A representative from the Trump Organization was unavailable for comment Monday. The filings were reported on Sunday by the South China Morning Post.
Macau, which is a former enclave of the Portuguese on the southern coast of China that was returned in 1999 to Chinese control, is the only area of China where casinos are legal.
After opening in 2001 its gambling monopoly, new casinos and visitors from China’s mainland led to a boom for full gambling attracting companies from the U.S. such as Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands. The enclave passed Las Vegas in 2006 in total revenues.
Trump started operating casinos in the 1980s in Atlantic City, eventually operating four that represented 30% of the gambling market for the city during the 1990s.
However, his casinos sought protection through bankruptcy filings multiple times and he stepped down from the board during 2009.
Trump’s applications for trademarks in Macau date back to 2006 including Trump, Donald J. Trump, Trump International Hotel, Trump Tower and a Trump’s name in Cantonese Chun Pou.
Licenses that were issued after the opening of Macau for gambling will soon start expiring which could help opened the gambling market up even more.