The Macau government will not yet introduce previously flagged austerity measures to control spending – as the city’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for July came in higher than officials had projected.
“Since the average monthly GGR intake [for 2015] still continues above the MOP20-billion [US$2.5-billion] threshold used to prepare the revised 2015 budget, at this moment it is still unnecessary to introduce austerity measures on public spending,” the Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lionel Leong Vai Tac (pictured), said in a Monday statement.
Mr Leong last week had estimated that the city’s GGR for July could come in below MOP18 billion. Official results disclosed on Monday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, showed a July tally of MOP18.62 billion.
The July numbers mean that Macau’s accumulated GGR for the seven months to July 31 now stands at MOP140.26 billion, a fall of 36.7 percent on the same period in 2014.
The gaming industry is the major source of Macau’s fiscal revenues. The government levies an effective tax rate of 39 percent on casino GGR – 35 percent in direct government tax, and the remainder in a number of levies to pay for a range of community good causes.
The Macau government fiscal surplus was down by 58.3 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2015 to MOP25.22 billion as public revenue kept falling at a time when public expenditure went up. The revised 2015 budget – approved by Macau’s Legislative Assembly in May – foresees a full-2015 surplus of MOP18.8 billion.
Mr Leong on Monday added that the Macau government would continue to “pay close attention” to GGR and “immediately introduce austerity measures” if average monthly GGR falls below MOP20 billion.
He added that local authorities would “ensure a rigorous supervision of gaming operators, namely of VIP room operations, so that eventual contingency measures to address unexpected events can be adopted in a timely manner.”
Mr Leong however did not disclose details on the nature of the “eventual contingency measures”.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China