Macau reported a 12.3 percent year-on-year revenue growth for September 2012 to Chinese gambling news websites.
According to the data released by the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the sector’s revenue was MOP 23.87 billion ($2.99 billion) compared to MOP 21.24 billion in the same month last year.
The growth rate for August 2011 was a 5.5 percent year-on-year. However, in the first whole nine months of 2012 year, gambling revenues grew 15 percent to MOP 223.3 billion, compared to the same period in 2011.
Even though these numbers represent a significant growth for the world’s largest land casino market, they are weaker than previously expected. Analysts had previously forecasted the September growth to be up 15-17 percent.
Industry sources tie the numbers with the slowdown of China’s economy and the political uncertainty affecting the country’s big-spending high-rollers who used to frequent the Macau casinos.
The former Portuguese colony is reachable from Hong Kong by ferry in an hour, and there is a new direct rail connection between Guangzhou and city. According to Chinese gambling laws, the tiny enclave is the only place where the mainland citizens can legally gamble in casinos throughout the whole country.
Macau boasted one of the world’s fastest growing economies last year. Country revenues rely heavily on the casino gambling industry and Chinese poker rooms, with the combined sector contributing to up to 40 percent of the special administrative region’s GDP.
Visitor trends continue to be down, with August being just a slight bit lower year-on-year. September was weak due to a decrease in revenues last week, just ahead of the long Chinese October holiday. Analysts expect a stronger October.
Macau gambling company shares fell 3-4 percent in Hong Kong on Thursday. Industry analyst Victor Yip commented the share moves: “There could be some profit-taking in the short term unless there is anything positive happening on the policy side.”