HONG KONG Jan 1 Gambling revenue in the Chinese
territory of Macau fell for a third year in a row in 2016 as a
prolonged anti-corruption campaign and slowing economic growth
sapped sentiment in the world's largest casino hub.
Gambling revenue fell 3.3 percent to 223.2 billion patacas
($28.0 billion) last year, government data showed on Sunday, in
line with with analyst forecasts of a drop of 3 percent to 4
However, December revenue rose 8 percent from a year earlier
to 19.8 billion patacas.
New casino resorts, which opened in the third quarter,
helped attract mass gamblers and spark a resurgence in VIP
spenders who have steered clear since Chinese President Xi
Jinping rolled out his campaign against corruption at the start
Analysts have called a bottom to Macau's gaming industry
amid a perception that the campaign is waning and the southern
Chinese enclave is no longer a top priority for the central
But they remain mixed on the sustainability and pace of
recovery in 2017 for operators Sands China, Wynn Macau
, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM China,
Melco Crown and SJM Holdings.
"Macau gaming, now firmly at the bottom of the cycle, has
better long-term prospects given investments in new supply,
improvements in mass market indicators and under-penetration of
gaming throughout the rest of Asia," said Fitch in a December
A specially administered region, Macau is the only place in
China where casino gambling is legal.
The latest wave of casino properties is set to open in Macau
from 2017, with The 13 Holdings and MGM, followed by SJM's
casino in 2018. The new resorts come as Macau faces increasing
competition from neighbouring casino hubs including Saipan, the
Philippines, Cambodia and South Korea.
Local authorities have been trying to push the development
of non gaming amenities to make the former Portuguese enclave
less reliant on casinos, which contribute more than 80 percent
of government revenues.
The build-out of neighbouring Hengqin island and
developments including a new ferry terminal, increased rail
links and a bridge linking Macau to Hong Kong and the mainland
province of Zhuhai are expected to help increase visitation to
the former Portuguese enclave over the next few years.
($1 = 7.9790 patacas)
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Richard Pullin)