After a meteoric rise and steady increases year after year, the last three months have seen Macau gambling revenue in a decline. Many analysts expected the last month’s numbers to bounce back as gross gambling revenue was still on the rise for the first 8 months of the year but faltered in the final month of Q3.
None of the six concessionaires in the market showed an increase in stock prices for the period. All dropped from between 2% to 4% with an overall drop of up to 30% on the year. The benchmark Hong Kong Hang Seng Index rose over 6% while the casino shares were declining.
The stock slide may be attributable to lack of confidence but the fall of actual gambling revenue seems to be directly related to the Chinese government’s crack down on corruption and graft which is affecting junkets to the gambling haven. Macau’s success was built on high rollers circumventing China’s strict rules on how much money they could bring with them to the district. Fewer junkets means less profit for the casinos.
Although many properties have tried to adjust by increasing marketing and promotions for the mass gaming floors, so far the efforts have been too little, too late to stifle the revenue loss.
More trouble may be on the horizon for the numbers if the small murmur of dealers demanding higher pay and improved working conditions spreads industry wide. A smoking ban set to take effect in October may also affect growth to some degree.
Other weaknesses in the city’s economy include a tightening mortgage market with a decrease in new home sales.
Wall Street keeps a sharp eye on Macau as three major Las Vegas casino operators; MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Wynn Resorts Ltd. are heavily invested on the island and derive significant capital from their operations there. All three are expected to open new casino resorts on the Cotai Strip in 2016 with combined costs of over $9.6 billion USD. Wynn Palace (and phase II Wynn Diamond) are being developed at a cost about $4 billion