February 1, 2019 / 5:12 AM / 9 months ago

Macau's casino revenue drops 5 percent in January

Traffic flows past gaming resorts at Cotai Strip in Macau, China May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) - Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau fell 5 percent in January, the first drop in more than two years, as appetite for gambling waned amid slowing economic growth and increased headwinds from the Sino-U.S. trade war.

The special administrative region reported 24.9 billion patacas ($3 billion) revenue, versus 26.3 billion patacas a year ago, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination said on Friday.

The drop was likely due to a smoking ban that came into effect on Jan. 1 as well as muted sentiment among VIP players ahead of Chinese New Year holidays in February, analysts said.

The figure was in line with analyst expectations of flat to a 12 percent drop in growth.

Macau, located on China’s southern coast and the country’s only legal casino hub, is highly reliant on gambling revenues for its finances, with taxes from the casinos accounting over 80 percent of the government’s revenue.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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