Macau saw its tax revenue from gaming increase by almost 14% in 2018 over the previous year’s take and this upward trend has continued as 2019 has gotten underway. According to data provided by the city’s Financial Services Bureau (FSB), direct taxes on the gaming sector were up 4.8% for the first two months of the year compared to the same period last year, reaching $2.43 billion across January and February.
The FSB released its findings this past Wednesday and the revelation shows that tax revenue from gaming accounts for almost 85.7% of the $2.834 billion in tax revenue collected by the city over the two-month period. Gaming operations have their gross gaming revenue taxed at a rate of 35%, but the effective tax rate is 39% due to additional taxes levied on the operations.
When Macau released its budget for 2019, it forecast collecting around $12.149 billion in gaming-related taxes on the year. If it is able to maintain the current rate, it will significantly surpass its forecast by the time the end draws to a close.
For all of 2018, Macau took in $13.21 billion in taxes from gaming operators in the city. This was a significant increase over the previous year and resulted in a 13.6% climb. That allowed the city to report a budget surplus at the end of the year of about $6.66 billion based on what had been forecast. Macau has a tendency to be conservative with its budget forecasts, but the results are still strong indicators of a growing economy in the city.
The FSB’s report shows that Macau is on a good path to see another budget surplus this year. Already, based on the gaming tax revenue alone, the city has an additional $2.07 billion to work with that it hadn’t considered when it created its 2019 budget.
While gaming has always been the main attraction in Macau, the city is hoping it can spread its wings and attract more tourists for other reasons, as well. Since September 2017, it has been rolling out its Macao Tourism Industry Development Master Plan in order to offer more non-gaming activities, including entertainment, education and family-oriented activities.