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Beijing Olympics could affect Macau gaming

Jul 29, 2008 7:00 PM

Industry Insider by Ray Poirier | It’s Olympics time in Beijing and the Chinese government is doing everything possible to insure its success.

News stories abound about efforts being made to curb the city’s legendary air pollution to the extent that the government is restricting auto traffic in the area.

Some oil analysts have suggested the Chinese government has been hoarding oil to insure that there would be an ample supply of gasoline to fuel vehicles during the Olympic Games.

And gaming analysts have suggested a restriction on permits that gamblers have been using to make the 40-mile trip from Hong Kong to Macau could reduce gaming revenues to the former Portuguese colony that now ranks as one of the world’s largest gaming venues.

This comes on the heels of the second fiscal quarter during which casino revenues in Macau grew 48%. But investors worried that the three months that ended on June 30 actually saw Macau’s 30 casinos report a decline of 3.1% from the first quarter.

This was the first sequential decline reported since 2005 when the market was buoyed with the construction of glitzy-styled casinos brought in by Las Vegas operators Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

The Macau tourist office blamed a decline in visitors to the May earthquake in Sichuan Province that killed over 70,000 Chinese. They noted that tourism rebounded in June.

Whether interest in the Olympics might keep Chinese citizens glued to their television sets or whether tougher travel restrictions will affect Macau’s gambling business will be watched closely by investors.