Macau’s lunar new year visits up despite Chinese ban on gambling, adultery

macau-adulteryCivil servants in the northern Chinese province of Liaoning have been ordered not to cheat on their spouses or gamble, even on personal time. In future, anyone drawing a public salary in the Dadong district in Liaoning’s capital Shenyang will also be prohibited from taking drugs and talking trash on the internet. The 5k civil servants in Dadong were told the new code of conduct was drawn up because such shenanigans have left the public cynical about government employees’ morality. The Huashang Morning Post reported that the rules will be phased in following a suitable propaganda campaign, likely followed by the jailing of a few random offenders to prove the government means business.

Gamblers way up in Dadong are closer to South Korea’s casinos than those in Macau, so their absence can’t be blamed for January’s single-digit revenue growth in the world’s top gaming hub. On Monday, SJM Holdings chairman Ambrose So Shu Fai told reporters he wasn’t overly worried by the January slowdown, noting that it wasn’t a case of Macau gamblers buying less chips and he remains convinced that casino win rates would bounce back soon enough. So did acknowledge that the days of perpetual double-digit monthly growth were done but suggested this had more to do with the base figure also having grown so sharply over the past few years.

So may be wrong about no more double-digit growth in Macau, at least not in lunar new year months. Credit Suisse projected that February’s casino revenue will rise 14% to 19% based (in part) on mass market gaming being up 25% for the first five days of the festivities. Analysts at Deutsche Bank and Norma Securities were even more bullish about the Wooden Horse, saying February would be up 20% to 25% year-on-year.

Preliminary stats from the Macau Government Tourist Office say the horde of visitors topped 1.05m, 13% higher than last year’s festivities. Visits from the Chinese mainland rose 23% to 770k. The overall hotel occupancy rate rose 5.4 points to 94.4%, but five-star hotels enjoyed 97.2% occupancy (+6.3). Traffic was also high at the new Chimelong International Ocean Resort on Hengqin Island, which received 80k visitors a day during the holidays and over 500k during its first 10 days in operation.

Macau’s Statistics and Census Service recently finished crunching some older data that found 84% of Macau visitor spending was on gambling. The data, which was collected back in 2010, said tourism accounted for 35% of Macau’s gross domestic product that year. That slice of the pie has undoubtedly grown much larger in recent years, as 2013’s visitors and revenue were up 17.5% and 91.5% respectively over the 2010 figures.