Macau casino free fall sees record revenue drop

GMT 09:26 2015 Tuesday ,03 March

Arab Today, arab today Macau casino free fall sees record revenue drop

Macau casino
Hong Kong - AFP

Macau casino revenue plunged a record 49 percent year-on-year in February as gaming takings free fall due to China's corruption crackdown, figures showed on Tuesday.
It was the ninth straight month of decline as Beijing encourages the semi-autonomous territory to diversify away from gambling and reins in high rollers from the mainland.
February revenue fell to 19.54 billion patacas ($2.45 billion), compared with 38.01 billion patacas for the same period last year, according to figures from the former Portuguese colony's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
The previous highest year-on-year drop was 30.4 percent in December, and an overall fall of 2.6 percent in 2014 was the first annual decline since figures were first released in 2002.  
"With all the current policies from China and the changing sentiment in Macau, we were not expecting the main driver for revenue to improve," Simsen International Financial Group associate director Jackson Wong told AFP.
"A lot of people have lost faith in the sector and that's why it has plunged."
But despite the drop, the figure was slightly better than expected, said Wong, and prompted Macau casino stocks listed in Hong Kong to rise.
Eight analysts polled by Bloomberg News had given a median estimate of a 53.5 percent decline ahead of the results.
Analysts had also trimmed their estimates for the month after fewer Chinese gamblers travelled to the city during the Chinese New Year period, usually one of the year's busiest, Bloomberg reported.
Wong said revenue may now stabilise at current levels, "or actually might improve going forward".
"That's why the stocks acted a little positively" he added.
Shares in gambling giants Sands China and Wynn Macau were up almost three percent on the Hong Kong stock exchange after the result, while casino operator SJM was up nearly one percent.
SJM Holdings reported last Wednesday a slump of 13 percent in 2014 net profit.
The casino revenue slowdown has mostly been attributed to a high-profile corruption crackdown spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi's visit in December saw him drive home the message that the territory needs to diversify away from casinos.
Macau overtook Las Vegas as the world's casino capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002, and still enjoys gambling revenues multiple times that of the American city.
But in the wake of China's crackdown resorts are now shifting away from VIP gamblers towards mass market visitors, offering non-gaming family friendly alternatives.

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