Casino revenue in Macau increased for a fifth consecutive month to reach MOP19.8 billion (around $2.5 billion) in December. An 8% rise was registered for the final month of 2016, as reported by the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
Macau’s gross gaming revenue started improving in August 2016 after it had plummeted for more than two years. The special administrative region’s gambling industry was hit severely by a corruption crackdown launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. As the anti-graft campaign intensified and enlarged its scope, high roller players, precious to Macau’s casinos, were scared off from the gambling mecca, hence the constant revenue drops.
Full-year casino revenue decreased 3.3% to MOP223.2 billion (approximately $28 million) last year. Analysts believe that 2016 was the last year of negative growth. It is expected that Macau’s gambling industry will continue improving in 2017 and that a positive revenue increase will be reported by the year’s end.
It is believed that the upcoming launch of MGM Cotai, MGM Resorts International’s second property in the Chinese special administrative region, will contribute to the anticipated improvement as it will be drawing both mass market and VIP customers from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. The new integrated casino resort to be gracing the Cotai Strip, Macau’s equivalent of the iconic Las Vegas Strip, is set to open to guests and visitors in the second quarter of the year.
At present, there are 37 casino facilities in the city, a significant number of which concentrated on said Cotai Strip.
Following the Macau government’s calls that the region should reduce its dependence on its gambling industry, several casino companies with operations there have launched more tourist- and mass-market player-friendly resorts. As results from the past five months show, this has proved a winning formula, or at least for now. The new properties have been drawing visitors not only from Mainland China but also from Japan, South Korea, and even the US.
However, analysts have warned that new, tighter, regulations on the local gambling industry may decelerate its growth and recovery in 2017 and beyond.
Shortly before the year’s close, Japanese lawmakers passed a bill that legalized casino gambling within Japan’s borders. The country still has a long way to go before opening any such properties but industry insiders have predicted that its casino industry could develop into a $20-billion-plus one, which means that Macau may face a serious competitor for gambling customers from the region and other parts of the world in the years to come.