HONG KONG, Aug 13(Reuters) - Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd, posted a 1.9 percent rise in net profit for the first half of the year on Wednesday due to sluggish growth in the world’s largest gambling hub.
While gambling revenue in the southern Chinese territory, has wildly surpassed other regional gaming hubs with annual revenue in 2013 reaching $45 billion, growth has begun to slide due to a slowing Chinese economy and a prolonged crackdown on corruption which has hit sentiment from wealthy Chinese patrons.
Gambling revenues fell for a second consecutive month in July, down 3.6 percent due to lingering impact from the soccer World Cup that diverted massive bets and the impact of Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign.
Casino rivals Sands China, Wynn Macau, MGM Resorts and Melco Crown have all posted lacklustre results due to increased labour costs and sluggish growth in the second quarter.
SJM, controlled by the family of former Macau kingpin Stanley Ho, said net profit for the first six months of the year rose to HK$3.9 billion ($503 million) from HK$3.8 billion a year earlier.
SJM, is continuing to lose market share to casino rivals like Sands China which have expanded on Macau’s fast-growing Las Vegas-style Cotai strip where SJM will not open a property until 2017.
The sole player in Macau’s lucrative gaming market for 40 years before the entry of foreign players like Las Vegas stalwarts Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson in 2002, SJM has seen its market share drop to 21-23 percent from a having a third of the market two years ago.
In February SJM broke ground on its new Cotai project dubbed “Lisboa Palace”, which will feature 70,000 square metre (753,500 square feet) of space of which 90 percent will be allocated to non-gaming facilities including a wedding pavilion, multi-purpose theatre and a six-star hotel by Italian fashion house Versace.
Analysts remain upbeat on the company due to a comparatively cheaper valuation than peers and a strong medium-term outlook.
$1 = 7.7616 Hong Kong dollars Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Matt Driskill