ambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau dipped 0.4 percent in March year-on-year, as slowing economic growth and the Sino-US trade war turned off high-roller gamblers.
March’s revenue was 25.8 billion patacas ($3.2 billion), Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination posted on Monday. The figure represented the highest revenue haul so far this year and was in line with analyst expectations of flat growth to a decline of 6 percent. The figure beat February’s 25.4 billion patacas, a 4.4 percent growth in GGR, buoyed by the Chinese New Year holiday period.
“March was better than feared, thanks to solid mass demand and favorable VIP luck,” stated analyst DS Kim of JP Morgan (Asia Pacific) Securities Ltd in his institution’s Monday note on the March GGR result.
As the special administrative region marks 20 years since its handover from Portuguese rule, slower mainland economic growth, a weaker yuan and a simmering trade war threaten to derail growth. Located on China’s southern coast, Macau is highly dependent on gambling revenue to buffer its finances. Taxes from casinos currently account for over 80 percent of the government’s total revenue.
Authorities have hardened calls for operators to diversify away from solely gambling and broaden Macau’s economic base to lessen the territory’s reliance on the casinos. The Macau government extended casino licenses for MGM China and SJM Holdings until 2022, bringing them on par with other operators. Both operators are required to pay a one-off fee of 200 million patacas ($25 million).