Macau’s top politician says next year’s casino gaming revenue will likely be little more than half its 2014 total, dramatically underscoring the challenges facing the world’s top gambling hub.
On Tuesday, Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui (pictured) announced his policy proposals for legislators to consider in 2016, but he may as well have gone full-on Game of Thrones by grimly declaring that winter is coming.
Macau has reported 17 straight months of revenue declines and no one expects this trend to reverse itself anytime soon. Macau casinos have earned MOP 196b (US $24.5b) through the first 10 months of the year and current estimates for 2015’s full-year results are for a 32% year-on-year decline to around MOP 239b ($30b). Chui told reporters that he expects 2016’s casino gaming revenue to come in around MOP 200b, down from MOP 351b in 2014 and from 2013’s record MOP 360.7b.
Despite the gloomy forecast, Chui urged casino operators to continue their efforts to diversify their revenue streams by developing large-scale non-gaming tourism projects. With the VIP market officially on life support, finding ways to boost mass market gaming is seen as the only card casino operators have left to play, although the recent launch of Melco Crown Entertainment’s movie-themed Studio City resort has so far done little to boost traffic to Macau.
Earlier this year, Macau’s government warned that it would have to run a deficit if the government’s share of casino revenue didn’t improve. On Tuesday, Chui said the government still had a surplus of MOP 30b and confidently announced small boosts to subsidies for Macau’s elderly and disabled residents. Chui said the goals of his “conservative” policy proposals were to “maintain stability,” mostly because yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is unbecoming of a senior politician.