Macau's tourism slump has taken its toll on the enclave's casino monopoly, which yesterday reported a 19.9 per cent drop in last year's earnings to 3.71 billion patacas. Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), which has held Macau's casino monopoly since 1962, blamed the decline on rising franchise tax payments, the region's financial crisis and 'unfavourable media reports about the state of Macau's security'. STDM chairman Stanley Ho Hung-sun was quoted by the Portugese news agency Lusa as saying its hotel and jetfoil businesses also suffered as a result of the regional financial turmoil. Macau's deteriorating law and order has attracted an avalanche of negative media coverage that Governor General Vasco Rocha Vieira said was a voluntary attempt to sabotage its smooth handover to mainland rule in December next year. Net assets were 23.44 billion patacas in the period. Despite a sharp drop in tourists and gamblers from Hong Kong, the company expressed 'absolute confidence' in the future of the enclave.