Macau gambling is back


MACAU, 4 September 2017: Macau on Friday said gaming revenues rose more than 20% year-on-year in August, despite the city being hammered by Severe Typhoon Hato, which ripped through the city killing at least 10 people.

The destruction wrought by the typhoon and the government’s handling of it prompted the resignation of Macau’s weather chief, an apology from the city’s leader and the deployment of the People’s Liberation Army Macau garrison to help in relief efforts.

Hato plunged the city’s gambling resorts into darkness with slot machines and air-conditioning units turned off at some casinos despite backup generators, while some including the Grand Lisboa simply closed after power and water supply was cut.

However, gaming revenues still surged 20.4% to 22.68 billion patacas (USD2.81 billion) for the month, beating expectations of 18.5% in a Bloomberg News survey.

Macau is the only part of China where casino gambling is legal and a favourite haunt of mainland big spenders.

The city was hurt by tumbling revenues after China’s President Xi Jinping launched a corruption crackdown in 2012, with many VIPs — crucial to the casinos’ income — choosing to stay away.

But annual takings are still three times larger than Las Vegas and have rebounded recently thanks to a resurgent VIP market and a push to woo tourists and mass market gamblers with a slew of new mega resorts.

Two more major openings are expected by 2018. MGM Cotai will include a spa, theatre, and 1,500 hotel rooms, while SJM’s Grand Lisboa Palace will feature Versace and Lagerfeld hotels.

“Macau is back in a big way,”  Macau-based Inside Asian Gaming magazine CEO Andrew Scott told AFP.