Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen (pictured) said on Tuesday that the city’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) is expected to have dropped by 12 percent to 13 percent in September compared to a year before, public broadcaster TDM reported.
If Mr Tam’s year-on-year forecast proves correct, it would be the fourth month in a row that GGR has declined judged against year prior periods. That would make it the most sustained retreat since the period between December 2008 and June 2009, shortly after the global financial crisis emerged.
Several gaming analysts have put forward similar estimates to Mr Tam’s.
A GGR drop of 13 percent would also mean Macau’s casino industry woes are worse than expected. It would be the sharpest decline since the downturn started: GGR dropped by 3.7 percent in year-on-year terms in June; contracted by 3.6 percent in July; and fell by 6.1 percent in August, data from the city’s gaming regulator show.
Casino revenue in September 2013 reached MOP29 billion (US$3.6 billion).
Mr Tam told reporters he does not forecast GGR growth for the full year to be negative. Instead, he estimated gaming revenue to stay at a similar level to that recorded in 2013 – MOP360.7 billion.
The Macau official pointed out some positive trends too. He highlighted that the city welcomed over 3 million tourists in August, a new monthly record. In his opinion, the increase in the number of tourists despite the drop in GGR showed that the government’s strategy to diversify Macau’s tourism offering beyond gaming was proving successful.
Mr Tam added that the slowdown in the city’s gaming industry also proved the cap on live dealer gaming tables implemented by the government since 2013 was appropriate and safeguarded the healthy development of the sector.
The Macau government has imposed a cap that seeks to limit the growth of live dealer tables to 3 percent compound annual growth until end-2022 from a base of 5,485 tables recorded by the gaming regulator at the end of the fourth quarter of 2012. The policy coincides with a huge expansion of casino resorts on Cotai involving billions of U.S. dollars in investment. Seven new such properties are due to open between 2015 and 2018.
Macau’s gaming regulator is expected to only announce the GGR results for September on October 6, after the holiday period that started on Wednesday to celebrate the National Day, marking the October 1, 1949 founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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