Macau Riding Storm: Typhoon Hato Doesn’t Dampen August Revenue Growth

Posted on: September 4, 2017, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2017, 10:09h.

Macau’s gaming revenue increased 20.4 percent year on year in August, despite the best efforts of Typhoon Hato. The category 10 storm hit the enclave on Wednesday, August 23, causing severe flooding, and leaving ten dead and several hundred injured.

Macau enjoys 13th month of growth despite Typhoon Hato
Typhoon Hato caused severe flooding in Macau but August revenues remained strong, marking the 13th straight month of growth for the gambling hub. (Image: South China Morning Post)

Travel restrictions and power outages caused major disruption to the casino sector but not enough to disrupt its ongoing recovery from the economic headwinds that ravaged the enclave from 2014 to 2016.

Revenue in August totaled 22.7 billion patacas ($2.8 billion), according to figures published this week by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), representing the fourth straight month of 20 percent-plus-growth.

VIP Bounce Back

It was the 13th straight month of growth overall since Macau bottomed out, reversing a 26-month downward spiral triggered by an anti-corruption drive initiated in Beijing.

In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced measures that restricted the movement of money into the gambling hub, tightened the screws on junket operations, and ultimately scared off the Chinese VIP gamblers that had provided the lion’s share of the casino sector’s revenues.

During the slump, Macau’s casinos deliberately pivoted towards the mass market, a factor that has largely driven recovery, but figures from Q2 this year suggest the VIPs are also returning. VIP revenue grew faster than mass market for the quarter, according to Union Gaming Macau.

Operators Cautioned Over Treatment of Staff

But despite the relative resilience of the sector in the face of natural disaster, DICJ this week called on operators to take greater measures to protect workers during extreme weather conditions.

The regulator said in an official statement on Friday that it had asked casinos to “handle in a humane way” cases involving staff members who were absent or late for work on August 23. Some employees said they were made to ride taxis to work during the typhoons.

The DICJ said operators believed they had dealt with such cases considerately, but had promised to improve staff arrangements and communication with employees during freak weather.

Macau’s casino operators have collectively donated $26.7 million to the relief effort, as of Friday, and have mobilized staff to help clean up the rubbish strewn across the streets, although there were reports that some employees were disgruntled about being given no option but to join the effort.

“Pakhar,” a second, category 8 storm struck Macau the following Sunday, causing further chaos to the clean-up operation.