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Macau’s Financial Recovery Taking Longer than Analysts Estimated

Sep 03, 2014 - by Monica Erdei

Declining Profits for Macau

Although analysts estimated that business would pick up again in Macau, revenue hit a new low in August. Latest gambling news say this was the third consecutive month when the world’s largest gambling hub posted a decline in profits, after China’s anti-graft campaign kept VIP gamblers away. As a consequence, casino shares also dropped.The downward trend began in June, when the city’s casino revenue saw the first decrease. July brought more bad news, and that’s when analysts jumped in to say it was only because of the FIFA World Cup, which had supposedly kept gamblers away from the casino table. Industry experts said profits would most likely increase again in August, but recent figures reveal a new drop in profits.

The 3.7% revenue decrease reported in June was the first drop Macau saw in five years. The former Portuguese colony is the only place in China where gambling laws allow casinos.

Reuters:  Macau gambling revenue declines for third consecutive month

This August, gambling revenue in Macau fell 6.1% on a year-to-year basis. News reports say this was also the third consecutive month when profits declined. Many believe it has something to do with China’s campaign against corruption, which extends to the world’s largest gambling hub and keeps VIP gamblers away.

According to a financial report released by the local government on Monday, total gambling revenue fell to 28.9 billion patacas in August (the equivalent of $3.6 billion) from 30.7 billion patacas in the same month of 2013. Industry analysts were expecting a decline of 2 to 6%.

There are 35 casinos operating in Macau at present. The former Portuguese colony is part of Chinese territory, but it’s still a special administrative region, just like neighboring Hong Kong. Gambling is not allowed on the mainland, but casinos are legal in Macau and the area has developed a lot over the past decade, becoming the world’s largest gambling hub.

During the past two years profits have seen a major increase. Revenue reached a total of $45 billion in 2013, but the latest figures have plummeted to lows last seen in 2009.

Bloomberg:  Macau Casino Revenue Misses Estimates on China Probes

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau recently announced that August’s total gross gaming revenue has declined 6.1% to 28.9 billion patacas. The percentage is much higher than the median estimate of just 2% promoted by seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered authorities to look into corruption and lavish spending in Macau. Officials suspect mainland residents are trying to find ways around the law, in order to spend more money on casino games than they’re allowed to. They are not looking into methods some gamblers use to transfer money from China, which has caused VIPs take their money somewhere else.

Although the number of visitors hasn’t changed much in Macau, Hong Kong-based analyst Philip Tulk said: “China’s anti-corruption campaign seems to be keeping some high-rollers out of Macau, and that’s unlikely to change much in the fourth quarter.”

Meanwhile, this has caused Sands China’s shared to drop 3.2%, while Galaxy Entertainment Group has seen a 2.9% decrease in shares.

Japan Times:  Macau casino dealers take industrial action for first time

While company shares are dropping and high-rollers are looking for other places where they can spend their money, Macau dealers working for one of the most popular casinos in the region have started industrial action against their employers. The protest is a first in Chinese history.

More than 1,000 dealers from SJM Holdings are asking for better salaries and benefits spreads. Some of them have shown up late for their shifts, while others have stopped working overtime.

“SJM has mobilized additional manpower support to handle the situation and promised that today, if workers are willing to go to work, they will guarantee compensation three times the salary,” baccarat dealer Ieong Mang Teng told reporters. Teng is also the head of a labor group called “Forefront of Macau Gaming”.

Despite all of these problems, eight new resorts are expected to be built in Macau over the next three years.

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