Macau casino revenue plunges record 49% in February on weak holiday gambling

Visitors try a machine at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in the world’s biggest gambling hub of Macau. Macau's gaming revenue fell by a record 48.6 per cent in February, a ninth straight month of decline. -- PHOTO: AFP
Visitors try a machine at the Global Gaming Expo Asia in the world’s biggest gambling hub of Macau. Macau's gaming revenue fell by a record 48.6 per cent in February, a ninth straight month of decline. -- PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE (Bloomberg) - Macau's gaming revenue fell by a record 48.6 per cent in February, a ninth straight month of decline, hit by weak gambling demand over the Lunar New Year holiday.

Gross gaming revenue in the world's biggest gambling hub fell to 19.5 billion patacas (S$3.33 billion) last month, Macau's Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said today. This compares with the median estimate of a 53.5 per cent decline from eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Macau last year posted its first ever annual decline in gaming revenue, as high-stakes gamblers avoided the city amid China's crackdown on graft and money laundering, and as the country's economy slowed. Another 8 per cent decline is forecast this year, according to the median estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, after last year's 2.6 per cent drop.

Analysts cut their estimates for February after Chinese gamblers failed to materialise during the Lunar New Year holiday period, traditionally one of the busiest weeks of the year. Macau's casinos had raked in an all-time record of 38 billion patacas in the same month last year.

The previous record monthly decline was a fall of 30.4 per cent in December. China's President Xi Jinping had visited Macau during the month and urged the city to diversify away from casinos.