Macau September Casino Gaming Revenue Seen Declining 13%

Macau’s casino gaming revenue is expected to have dropped by 12 percent to 13 percent in September from a year earlier, Teledifusao de Macau reported, citing the city’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam.

The city set a record for tourist arrivals in August despite gaming revenue growth narrowing, according to the report posted yesterday on the website of the state-controlled television station. This indicates Macau’s tourism market is no longer solely driven by the casino industry, the TV station cited Tam as saying. Two calls to Tam’s office in Macau outside regular office hours went unanswered.

A drop in gaming revenue in September would make it the fourth straight month of declines. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s campaigns against extravagance and graft have dented spending by high-stakes gamblers in Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal.

Total gross gaming revenue in the world’s biggest gambling hub dipped 6.1 percent to 28.9 billion patacas ($3.6 billion) in August after falling 3.7 percent in June and 3.6 percent in July, according to Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, which is due to release September’s figures on Oct. 3.

Visa restrictions and Macau authorities’ crackdown on the use of UnionPay debit cards to transfer money from China have also deterred high rollers, who accounted for over 60 percent of the city’s gaming revenue.

National Day

Macau casino operators fell at the close of trading in Hong Kong yesterday, before Tam’s comments were reported, amid wider share declines in the city as protesters blocked roads in a fifth day of pro-democracy demonstrations.

Sands China Ltd. fell 2.4 percent, Wynn Macau Ltd. dropped 2.6 percent and MGM China Holdings Ltd. declined 2.8 percent, while the benchmark Hang Seng index fell 1.3 percent.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., the U.S. company that controls Sands China, rose 3.4 percent in New York yesterday while Wynn Resorts Ltd. gained 4.5 percent and MGM Resorts International advanced 2.8 percent.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is closed for two days for National Day, marking the Oct. 1, 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China, and will re-open on Oct. 3. China has a seven-day holiday, known as Golden Week, starting today. Macau also has two days of public holidays starting today.

“Macau growth has decelerated sharply and will remain weak for the next few months,” Aaron Fischer, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CLSA Ltd. wrote in a Sept. 25 note. “October will run up against a tough base and there will be some teething problems around the new smoking ban.”

Macau’s health agency announced in May that all casinos are required to implement smoking bans on their gaming floors starting Oct. 6. VIP rooms will be exempted from the ban.

— With assistance by Daryl Loo

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