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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Macau Casinos Affected By China's Anti-Corruption Crackdown

Casino Lisboa and neighboring casinos at night in Macau.

(Photo : Wikimedia Commons) Casino Lisboa and neighboring casinos at night in Macau.

Macau has been bleeding gambling revenue with record losses posted last month, and many people were blaming a significant corruption crackdown for the financial losses.

Other factors seemed to be the political turmoil in Hong Kong, just an hour's ferry ride away and curbs on the use of state-sanctioned UnionPay credit cards.

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Known as the global gambling capital, Macau's 35 casinos saw gambling revenue in the $45 billion range last year, a figure surpassing total Las Vegas gambling revenue by 700 percent. The take in Macau has dropped 23 percent to 28 percent every month since China's anti-corruption crackdown began in June.

Casino officials in the world's top gambling location said the crackdown was scaring away high rollers, some of whom were Chinese officials with possibly shady dealings. Flashing cash at a Macau casino became a surefire way to attract attention, so now high stakes gamblers are finding alternative venues.

VIP revenue was significant in the former Portuguese colony. It fell to around 55 percent of total revenue in the third quarter this year, an all-time low. Macau casino revenue experienced its slowest annual growth in five years.

High rollers were heading to Singapore and Sydney where they felt more comfortable in avoiding the long arm of the Chinese anti-corruption law.

Superstar gaming and hotel executive Steve Wynn, owner of Wynn Macau among many other properties, pointed to Beijing's anti-corruption charge, said, it had "put a lot of wealthy businessmen in the foxholes.

Hoffman Ma, Pointe 16 Resort, Macau deputy CEO, said this summer was brutal for the VIP segment of the gambling clientele with his casino's VIP gambling revenues off by 20 percent.

Anti-corruption measures were affecting casinos due to their previous use by some people and VIPs to circumvent China's strict currency laws allowing citizens to carry about $3,300 per day abroad, Ma said.

Macau is a special administrative region at the mouth of the Pearl River Delta. The size of the island of Manhattan, it's the only place in China where gambling is legal.

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