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Macau revenue down in November after down year

Tue, Dec 3, 1:41pm by Ethan Anderson

Macau casino gaming revenue had a challenging November, but the final numbers were slightly better than most had forecasted.

Calvin Ayre reports the figures released last Sunday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau show the special administrative region’s casino operators generated gaming revenue of US$2.84 billion in November, an 8.5 per cent decline from the same month last year and a 13.5 per cent dip on October’s number.

November’s decline is the seventh month of year-on-year declines so far in 2019, and the 8.5 per cent decline was second only to the 8.6 per cent fall suffered in Macau in August.

November’s revenue was the second lowest this year, above only September’s.

Macau’s currently woe have largely been laid at the doors of the casinos’ VIP rooms, which have struggled as high-rollers give Macau a wide berth.

The VIP drop off has been attributed to a number of factors, including tightened liquidity for some manufacturing executives as the US-China trade war drags on and Chinese authorities’ renewed interest in the activities of certain junket operators.

Macau’s overall market performance would have been much more dire were it not for strong growth in the mass market gaming segment, which overtook VIP baccarat revenue in the first quarter of 2019 and has held that lead ever since.

For the year-to-date, gaming revenue is down 2.4 per cent to US$33.4 billion and it appears almost certain that Macau’s two-year streak of annual revenue growth will end in 2019.

Macau posted annual rises in both 2017 and 2018 after three years of significant decline that started in 2014.

December is expected to extend Macau’s gaming revenue decline as Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Macau mid-month to mark the 20th anniversary of Macau’s handover from Portugal.

Ahead of Xi’s visit, China imposed temporary restrictions on exit visas for Macau-bound travellers on November 22 that will extend through December 20.

Macau stocks down after poor August

Macau casino stocks are trading lower after a poor August according to its gross gaming revenue report, amid ongoing protests in nearby Hong Kong.

Casino.org reports the world’s richest gaming hub saw its casino win tumble 8.6 per cent last month to $3.01 billion, down from $3.28 billion in the same month in 2018.

Gaming industry analysts were forecasting a gross gaming revenue decline of between two and six per cent.

With two-thirds of the year complete, Macau casino win is down two per cent to $24.5 billion.

The August financial report came on Sunday, and as a result, associated casino stocks slumped on Monday, the first day of trading following the news.

Hong Kong-listed Sands China, Wynn Macau, SJM Holdings and MGM China all fell between 1.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent – underperforming the index, which was down only 0.4 per cent in the same frame.

Last Tuesday wasn’t any kinder to Macau’s casino companies, which are hoping to weather an economic slowdown and an end to the ongoing protests in nearby Hong Kong.

Sands China dropped another 3.5 per cent, Wynn Macau 1.1 per cent and SJM 2.9 per cent.

MGM China did better than all of these though, down just 0.17 per cent.

Hong Kong tensions fuelling downturn

Hong Kong – now easily accessible to Macau via a 34-mile bridge spanning the Pearl River Delta – remains in a state of chaos.

Locals there are voicing their opposition against a stalled extradition bill that many view as the mainland China government gaining unreasonable power over the Special Administrative Region.

The unrest turned violent over the weekend and threatens to spread to Macau.

“Protests have become more violence and tense, heightening uncertainty over how all this will end,” BOCOM international analyst Philip Tse told Bloomberg.

“The impression among mainland Chinese that Hong Kong is not a pleasant place to travel, or even work or go to school, could be more lasting, and that will deal a substantial blow to the local economy.”


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