Inside Gaming: Macau Breaks Records, Caesars Reports Losses, and Bulgaria Bans Sites
In this week’s edition of Inside Gaming, we took a look at Macau’s continued success, Caesars’ troubles, and Bulgaria’s blacklisted websites.
Macau Breaks Records in October
According to Bloomberg, casino revenue in Macau increased 32 percent to a record of 36.5 billion patacas ($4.57 billion) in October. The boost in revenue most likely came from Mainland Chinese visitors who traveled to the gambling paradise during their Golden Week holiday.
Golden Week is a semi-annual national holiday where Chinese citizens receive a minimum of three days of paid holiday.
The previous record was 31.34 billion patacas ($3.92 billion) in March of this year.
In addition to the limitless amounts of gaming and shopping available on the former Portuguese colony, Sands Macao and Galaxy Macau are adding entertainment shows and hotel rooms to attract more Chinese tourists. According to the Macau Government Tourist Office, Mainland visitors to the island rose 12.1 percent to 722,746 during the Golden Week Holiday when compared to 2012.
In the first 10 months of 2013, Macau gambling revenue is up to 297.1 billion patacas ($37.2 billion). Nearly $38 billion was raked in 2012 – six times more than the Las Vegas Strip.
Sands, MGM Macau and Wynn Macau all reported double-digit earnings growth in casino revenue for the third quarter. China’s economic growth increased for the first time in three quarters. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) raised 7.8 percent in Q3 when compared to 2012.
Earlier in October, Reuters reported that a $5 billion theme park is going to be built in Hengqin, a 10-minute drive from Macau. The developers hope that they can capitalize on the popularity of the gambling haven, and attract new tourists from Mainland China as well.
Caesars Reports Third Quarter Losses
On Tuesday, Caesars Entertainment reported a $761.4 million quarterly loss. In a conference call, the company said this net loss is more than 50 percent more than 2012’s loss of $505.5 million.
Analysts asked Chairman Gary Loveman about the company’s exit from the Suffolk Downs project in the Greater Boston area. Massachusetts state casino investigators raised several concerns about Caesars, including a business relationship with a person alleged to have family members involved in organized crime outside of the United States.
In the conference call, Loveman said he was “disappointed and angry” about the Suffolk Downs incident.
“We were prepared to show our suitability to the commission, but the commission took no action,” said Loveman. “We have turned our focus back to our ongoing development and repositioning efforts, which are greater catalysts for enhancing the company’s performance.”
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Caesars invested $100 million into the Boston proposal.
Loveman also addressed money laundering allegations at Caesars Palace. The Chairman says the company is cooperating with the U.S. Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
Regarding the company’s third quarter losses, Loveman tried to remain positive.
“We made considerable progress on the execution of our strategy and achieved key milestones on many projects during the quarter despite continued softness in the domestic gaming business,” he said.
During Q3, Caesars launched WSOP.com, the second real-money online poker venture in Nevada. Caesars is making preparations for a launch in New Jersey in late November. The company also continued to build the $400 million Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and sold its Macau golf course, which will net the company $420 million when the transaction is completed at the end of 2013.
For more, check out the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A week ago, PokerNews reported that the Bulgarian government is considering lowering taxes on gambling to attract foreign operators to the country. The news came after criticism regarding the current rate of 15 percent of total turnover, leading operators fleeing the country.
“The present taxation regime on Internet gambling needs to be liberalized in a way that will attract foreign registered operators to register themselves in Bulgaria and pay taxes here,” Yordan Tsonev, chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee in Bulgaria, said.
Beyond the tax rate, the Bulgarian government has also started to blacklist betting websites from operating in the country. The Bulgarian State Gambling Commission initially banned 10 sites on Oct. 23, then added five more on Wednesday.
Here is the entire list:
Only one online operator, Malta-based Eurofootball, has received a license to offer gambling in the country. The sports betting site is partially owned by Bulgarian billionaire Vasil Krumov Bozhkov.
For more, head to iGamingBusiness.com.