Casino operators see slower growth

Updated: 2010-06-11 07:16

(HK Edition)

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SJM Holdings Ltd, the largest casino operator in the gaming enclave of Macao, said Thursday it expects VIP gaming revenue growth to slow in the second half from the first half.

Key casino operators in Macao have turned somewhat conservative about the prospects for the gaming market, seeing slower revenue growth in the second half this year, as many wealthy mainland patrons take a hit from a weak stock market and tight monetary policies.

But the growth rate for mass-market gaming revenue will continue to accelerate as more mainland visitors come to the city to gamble, Frank McFadden, president of SJM's joint venture and business development division, told Reuters on the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo in Macao.

He said the second half could see 60 percent of SJM's revenues come from the VIP segment, down from 65 percent in the first quarter. The rest of its revenue comes from mass-market gamblers.

SJM, which has two parcels of land on Macao's Cotai Strip, is taking a "wait-and-see" approach on the area being billed as the next Las Vegas Strip, McFadden said. SJM and an MGM Mirage partnership are the only two of Macao's six gaming concession holders that have no active plans on Cotai.

Meanwhile, Wynn Macau's chief operating officer Linda Chen also said gaming revenue growth in Macao could slow in the second half as spending moderates after a boom in the second half of 2009, when the mainland was in the midst of a massive economic stimulus plan.

Still, the gaming enclave is likely to beat a forecast for 30 percent growth in gaming revenues this year by Macao's top gaming regulator, Chen told reporters at an event in Macao.

Gaming revenues in Macao, the world's largest and fastest-growing gaming market, surged almost 95 percent in May to a record 17 billion patacas ($2.1 billion), analysts said, citing Portuguese news agency Lusa. That followed a 70 percent year-on-year jump in April, when revenue rose to a previous record 14.1 billion patacas ($1.76 billion).


(HK Edition 06/11/2010 page3)