Macau gaming gains continue despite typhoon

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 01 2017 04:03 PM

A view of Casino Lisboa is seen during power outages after Typhoon Hato hit in Macau, China August 24, 2017. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MACAU - Macau on Friday said gaming revenues rose more than 20 percent year-on-year in August, despite the city being hammered by Severe Typhoon Hato, which ripped through the city killing at least 10 people.

The destruction wrought by the typhoon and the government's handling of it prompted the resignation of Macau's weather chief, an apology from the city's leader and the deployment of the People's Liberation Army Macau garrison to help in relief efforts.

Hato plunged the city's gambling resorts into darkness with slot machines and air-conditioning units turned off at some casinos despite backup generators, while some including the Grand Lisboa simply closed.

However, gaming revenues still surged 20.4 percent to 22.68 billion patacas ($2.81 billion) for the month, beating expectations of 18.5 percent in a Bloomberg News survey.

Macau is the only part of China where casino gambling is legal and a favourite haunt of mainland big spenders.

The city was hurt by tumbling revenues after China's President Xi Jinping launched a corruption crackdown in 2012, with many VIPs -- crucial to the casinos' income -- choosing to stay away. 

But annual takings are still 3 times larger than Las Vegas and have rebounded recently thanks to a resurgent VIP market and a push to woo tourists and mass market gamblers with a slew of new mega resorts.

Two more major openings are expected by 2018. MGM Cotai will include a spa, theatre, and 1,500 hotel rooms, while SJM's Grand Lisboa Palace will feature Versace and Lagerfeld hotels. 

Casinos brought in more than $28 billion in 2016, representing half of the city's gross domestic product.

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