Macau’s casino industry has bottomed out, says gaming tycoon Lui
Gross gambling revenue dropped 9.5 per cent year on year to 17.3 billion patacas in April
Property tycoon and casino owner Lui Che-woo says Macau’s struggling gaming market has bottomed out after posting almost two years of continuous declines in monthly gambling revenues.
“The [revenues] from the beginning of this year until now have not continued to drop sharply and have stabilised,” Galaxy Entertainment chairman Lui said on Tuesday after the company’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong. “I believe this means we can say [the market] has already bottomed out.”
Galaxy has one of the six gaming concessions in Macau.
Macau posted its 23rd consecutive monthly decline in revenue in April, bumping along at five-year lows.
Gross gambling revenue dropped 9.5 per cent year on year to 17.3 billion patacas in April, figures from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau show.
The slide in gross gaming revenues has narrowed from a 37 per cent year-on-year drop in April last year.
In late February, when Galaxy reported a 60 per cent slump in profit for last year, Lui said it was “too early to call a bottom to the market especially given the current volatile macroeconomic environment”.
His eldest son, Galaxy deputy chairman Francis Lui Yiu-tung, said business was “not bad” during Labour Day holiday from April 30 to May 2, which traditionally sees an influx of mainland Chinese visitors to Macau.
Beijing’s crackdown on corruption and macroeconomic headwinds have forced Macau’s casino operators to delay new projects and try to lure middle-class mainland visitors instead of VIPs.
Galaxy said its new projects, such as the “family-friendly” Broadway Macau casino resort which opened last year, were part of the industry’s structural shift to cater to the mass market and non-gaming sectors.
MGM China, one of Galaxy’s rivals, said last week it would delay the opening of a new US$3 billion casino to the first quarter of 2017 from the original target of by the end of this year.
Lui, 86, said one way to stimulate the flailing market was for the Macau government to consider rejecting a proposed total ban on smoking inside casinos.
Lui said only a few places around the world had implemented total smoking bans in casinos, and he hoped the government would consider retaining smoking lounges.