Photographer: Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg

Macau's Economy Shrinks 20% in 2015 Amid Casino Gaming Slump

  • Gambling hurt by China's anti-graft campaign, slowing economy
  • Casinos shifting focus to mass market from VIP gamblers

Macau’s economic output contracted 20.3 percent in 2015 as the world’s largest center of gambling was hurt by falling casino revenue and fewer visitors amid China’s anti-corruption campaign and slowing economy.

The Chinese city’s economy shrank 14.4 percent in the fourth quarter due to the continued decline in exports of tourism and gaming services, the local statistics bureau said in an e-mailed statement, easing from a fall of 24.2 percent drop in the three months through September.

President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on graft has deterred high rollers from traveling to Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal, and about $46 billion of market value were wiped out from the city’s six casino operators last year.

There’re signs Macau’s gambling market has reached a bottom as a rise in the number of mainland Chinese tourists over last month’s Lunar New Year holiday helped ease the industry’s 21-month slump. Gross gaming revenue fell 0.1 percent to 19.5 billion patacas ($2.4 billion) in February, the smallest decrease since the downturn began in June 2014.

Operators such as Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. have opened resorts aimed at tourists and families, as they bet on mass-market gamblers to offset the loss of VIP customers. Sands China Ltd. and Wynn Macau Ltd. are also due to open their billion-dollar projects in the second half of this year.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE