Casinos operators mixed on Macau data

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Staff & Wire Reports |

Shares of casino operators with properties in Macau were mixed Friday after
the Chinese enclave reported that December arrivals fell from a year ago — the
first monthly year-over-year decline since June 2003.

The casino industry has struggled as consumers have curbed discretionary
spending due to the prolonged housing downturn, eroding credit, rising food
costs and unemployment concerns. Both the Las Vegas and Macau markets have been
hindered by the global economic downturn, with Macau’s visitation also pinched
by tighter visa restrictions.

The Macau Special Administrative Region Statistics and Census Service said
that December visitation to Macau slipped 2.7 percent from 2007. Macau is the
only area in China where casinos are legal.

While 2008 visitation climbed nearly 12 percent from the previous year, the
growth rate was considerably slower than those of the past. In 2007, arrivals to
Macau jumped almost 23 percent from 2006.

Other casino operators in Macau include Las Vegas Sands Corp. (nyse: LVS –
news – people ), MGM Mirage (nyse: MGM – news – people ) and Wynn Resorts Ltd. (nasdaq:
WYNN – news – people ) Hong Kong-based Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. also
develops and owns casino resorts in Macau.

MGM Mirage’s stock shed 17 cents, to $9.20 in morning trading, while shares
of Las Vegas Sands added 15 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $5.96. Wynn’s stock gained
30 cents to $34.66 and shares of Melco Crown dipped 3 cents to $2.98. The
broader market slid for a second straight day on Friday as weak corporate
earnings reports stirred fears that the recession will be deeper and longer
lasting than some investors had predicted.


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