First dip in Sands profit
Growing competition, higher commission payments and rising staff costs contributed to the first drop in operating profit at the Sands Macau casino since it opened in 2004.
First-quarter profit fell 3.6 per cent year on year to US$90.56 million, despite a 24.4 per cent increase in turnover - to a record US$346.1 million.
Profit was down 9 per cent from the previous quarter.
Sands has grown in tandem with Macau, which last year overtook the Las Vegas Strip as the world's single-largest gaming market. In most quarters it has enjoyed double-digit growth in earnings and revenue.
But margins have dwindled as the Sands battles to fend off competition from new resorts opened by rivals Wynn Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment and Stanley Ho Hung-sun's Sociedade de Jogos de Macau.
Management blamed the margin squeeze on higher commissions paid to middlemen bringing in high rollers, and higher staff costs in preparation for the opening of the US$2.4 billion Venetian casino resort.
Sands Macau is operated by US billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands, the world's largest casino developer. It is investing up to US$14 billion in Macau.