Real exports of gaming services from Macau – a measure of what visiting gamblers contribute to gross domestic product (GDP) – were worth 0.6 percent less in the first quarter of this year than a year earlier, according to official data.
Macau’s entire economy shrank in the quarter ended March 31, led by reductions in domestic demand and exports.
The Macau government issued a statement on Monday that said real GDP was 3.2 percent smaller in the first quarter than it was one year earlier. The result snapped a trend that saw 10 consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth.
The announcement via the Statistics and Census Service said first-quarter real exports of other tourism services – what visitors contribute to GDP other than by gambling – shrank by 0.3 percent. First-quarter real investment declined by 32.1 percent.
“Total demand weakened due to feeble growth, leading to increased downward pressure on the economy,” the statement said.
The government said weak momentum in growth was manifested by a mediocre performance by the services sector, despite a marked increase in the number of visitors to Macau.
“Exports of gaming services and other tourism services reversed from an uptrend,” the statement says.
Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau – a measure of casino industry performance – fell by 0.5 percent year-on-year in the first three months of this year. Such GGR was MOP76.15 billion (US$9.43 billion) according to data issued on April 1 by the local casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, exports of gaming services were up 6.7 percent. Last year’s full-year GDP was 4.7 percent greater than in 2017, the city’s Statistics and Census Service said in February. It was the second consecutive annual rise, boosted by revenue growth in the city’s gaming industry.
Last month the International Monetary Fund predicted that Macau’s economy would grow by 4.3 percent this year and plateau at around 4 percent expansion annually in the medium term.
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Colin Mansfield and Alex Bumazhny
Analysts at Fitch Ratings