Macau casinos’ gross gaming revenue fell by 1/3 in September, the sixteenth month in a row showing decline, but the numbers were within expectations. Hitting forecasts as well as reports that Beijing may be willing to support the local economy saw operator advances by as much as 10% at the close of trading Friday on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. was up the most followed by Wynn Macau Ltd. with an advance of 7.4%, and more than 6% by MGM China Holdings Ltd., Sands China Ltd., and SJM Holdings Ltd. The advances helped push the benchmark Hang Seng Index up 3.2%.
Li Gang, director of the Chinese government’s local liaison office told local broadcaster Teledifusao de Macau that China will introduce new measures in the coming months to support Macau in the midst of the current “economic adjustment”.
A slowdown in the overall Chinese economy coupled with a potential universal smoking ban and relentless anti-corruption campaign affecting junket operations has stymied growth in the former Portuguese enclave that still posts revenues nearly seven times those of Las Vegas. Major junket operator, Neptune Group Ltd. recently noted that it may abandon the Macau market if some form of daylight does not appear soon for the HKEx listed company that posted a US$106.8 million loss for the six month period ending June 30th. The company posted profit of US$19.2 for the same period last year.
Bloomberg reports that an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., DS Kim, has written in a note that, “Any potential measures to help Macau’s visitation could be a great boon for the industry, as casual gamblers are now becoming the key pillar of the industry profits in the midst of VIP weakness.” The report includes that more Chinese cities could offer individual visas and that multi- entry permits could be introduced.
Other local media were reporting that the government is also studying other ways to boost local tourism, with numbers from China’s National Day, part of what has become known as “Golden Week” so far coming in mostly flat for the casinos. Historically Golden Week has taken second place only to the Chinese New Year period in terms of visitor numbers and casino handle in Macau.