(Reuters) - Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau dropped 3.5% in July from a year earlier, due to tempered demand from high rollers amid a slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy and a trade war with the United States.
Revenue was 24.5 billion patacas ($3.04 billion) in July, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination said on Thursday. The figure was just below analyst expectations of a 3% drop to 3% rise.
The figure was up from June’s monthly haul of 23.81 billion patacas.
As the special administrative region marks 20 years since its handover from Portuguese rule, slower mainland economic growth, a weaker yuan and a simmering trade war threaten to derail growth.
At the same time, a state-backed report in July singled out Macau’s biggest junket operator Suncity, which operates VIP gambling rooms around Asia, for causing great harm to China’s social order by raking in billions of dollars in online gaming and proxy betting.
Suncity head Alvin Chau apologized to the government for any “negative impact” on Macau’s casinos but denied the group had anything to do with online gaming.
The group, which attracts high roller gamblers to play in Macau’s casinos, runs 18 VIP gaming clubs in the former Portuguese colony.
All six casino license holders, Sands China (1928.HK), Wynn Macau (1128.HK), MGM China (2282.HK), Galaxy Entertainment (0027.HK), SJM Holdings (0880.HK) and Melco Resorts (MLCO.O) work with Suncity to attract VIPs to their properties.
Analysts said the incident could have an impact on future gaming revenues with some junkets withdrawing capital following the announcement.
Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Richard Pullin