Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Macau's Third-Quarter Economy Sinks 24% Compared to a Year Ago

  • Fifth straight quarterly decline, easing from 26.4% drop in 2Q
  • Gaming services plunged 37% in 3Q, tourism services fell 15%

Macau’s economy contracted a fifth straight quarter as the world’s largest center of gambling was pummeled by an economic slowdown in China and the government’s attack on corruption which scared off high-rollers.

The Chinese city, which relies on gamblers for about two-thirds of economic output, saw GDP tumble 24.2 percent in the three months through September, easing from the 26.4 percent drop in the second quarter, government data released Monday showed.

Casinos in the former Portuguese colony have tried to reinvent themselves by focusing on tourists rather than hard-core gamblers, even as the city’s Beijing-backed chief executive predicted a third year of pull-back in the industry in 2016. Gambling revenue plunged a 17th straight month in October, as increased visits over China’s National Day holiday week failed to boost betting.

“The gambling market will gradually find its way to get used to negative factors such as China’s economic slowdown and anti-corruption campaign,” said Zhonglu Zeng, a professor of gaming studies and research at the Macao Polytechnic Institute. This means Macau’s economy may start improving on a quarter-on-quarter basis going forward, he said in a telephone interview.

The third quarter’s economic contraction was due to the continuous decline in services exports, of which gaming plunged 37.4 percent and other tourism services fell 15.3 percent, Macau’s Statistics and Census Service said in a statement on its website.

Macau’s government is due as early as Tuesday to report gross gaming revenue for November, which is seen falling 31.5 percent according to the median estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The measure is down by 35.5 percent in the first 10 months of this year, government data showed.

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