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2018 was a bumper year for Macau’s casinos

Wed, Jan 2, 12:45pm by Staff Writer

Gambling revenue in Macau grew 14 per cent in 2018 according to data released by the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

December was the 29th consecutive month where revenue in China’s only legal gambling hub increased versus the same month a year prior.

The city’s accumulated gross gaming revenue for the 12 months of 2018 stood at US$37.57 billion.

It marks the second year of growth after a 19.1 per cent increase in 2017, as reported by ABS CBN News.

This came after three years of annual decline, highlighted by a 34.3 per cent slip in 2015.

The 16.6 per cent year-on-year increase noted in December figures exceeded the expectations of several brokerages covering the Macau casino sector, with growth expected to be between 10 and 15 per cent year-on-year.

Brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd said in a recent statement that it expected a “slow start” to 2019.

“As we look into first quarter 2019, and contemplate the timing of Chinese New Year, we would not be surprised if January was flattish and February was up in the mid/high single digits,” Grant Govertsen said.

He added: “For the whole of the first quarter 2019 we are forecasting a gross gaming revenue increase of 4 per cent.”

Shake up on the cards in Macau

Gaming licenses in Macau start to expire next year, forcing all players to pitch for a spot on the caisno floor according to The Straits Times.

American giants Sands China, Wynn Macau and MGM China may suffer from weakened trade relations between China and the United States, giving an opportunity for local Chinese brands to try their luck.

As it stands, three United States-owned names control more than 60 per cent of industry earnings according to JP Morgan.

Licenses for Macau casino operators SJM Holdings and MGM China are set to expire in 2020.

Contracts for the remaining four operators Galaxy Entertainment, Melco International, Sands China and Wynn Macau will end in 2022.

The licenses were first awarded in a complex process in the early 2000s. Government officials have said there may be a new public bidding process when they expire.

Casinos are bullish that 2019 will be another year of growth with the benefits of the opening of last year’s longest sea-crossing bridge and tunnel linking Macau to Hong Kong and mainland China’s Pearl River Delta.

Authorities in Macau are also hoping the bridge will boost the development of Macau’s convention and exhibition business and raise overnight visitation numbers, both of which help drive non-gaming revenue.

Tax from casinos in Macau currently accounts for more than 80 per cent of the Macau government’s total revenue.

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