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Macau's gambling revenue plunges by a third in November
[HONG KONG] Gambling revenue in Macau plunged 32.3 per cent in November from a year earlier, extending a decline from the previous month and hovering near five-year lows as the world's biggest gambling hub struggled to attract wealthy Chinese punters.
Revenues in Macau, the only place in China were casino gambling is legal, have fallen for 18 consecutive months due to slowing economic growth and a broader crackdown on corruption targeting the illicit money outflows.
Gambling revenue dropped to 16.4 billion patacas (S$2.82 billion) from 24.3 billion patacas a year earlier, the lowest this year and down from 20.06 billion patacas in October, according to data released by the Macau government on Tuesday.
Six analysts polled by Reuters estimated a decline between 31 per cent and 34 per cent.
Even with the prolonged decline, the former Portuguese colony's gaming revenues are more than five times the income of Las Vegas.
Macau's government earns more than 80 per cent of its revenue from the gambling industry, but has been trying to boost its tourism industry as an alternate source of income.
Last month, Macau's leader Fernando Chui said the territory needed to continue the shift away from casinos, and projected gross gaming revenue to drop 13 per cent to 200 billion patacas, the low end of analyst expectations.
Initial attempts to diversify away from gambling, however, have struggled to attract tourists: Melco Crown's movie themed Studio City has yet to gain traction.
Analysts say the short-term outlook for casino operators in Macau remains uncertain. These firms include Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Holdings, Melco and MGM China.
The territory's longer-term prospects are better as up to 3 per cent of China's 1.4 billion population have yet to visit.