China’s Xi cracks down on Macau’s gambling industry

Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared a war on global gambling and warned Macau that the world’s biggest gambling hub needs to diversify

China's President Xi Jingping is keen to make China less dependent on its gambling industry to prop up its economy

As part of his two-year anti-corruption campaign, Xi has pledged to crack down on advertisements promoting Macau casinos and tighten visa restrictions, according to analysts. In addition, officials will monitor UnionPay, the only domestic bank in China, to track retail gamblers. The stakes are particularly high as Xi’s reforms to quash ostentatious spending squeeze revenue growth even further, leading to high rollers abandoning Macau’s tables.

Macau’s casino industry, which contributes 80 percent of government revenue, has boomed since 2002

Officials will review the 35 casinos in Macau and examine how operators have diversified away from gambling to decide who will get the greater share of the gambling tables in a new strip modelled on Las Vegas. Many of the companies that lead the city’s $44bn gaming industry have pledged billions of dollars to open more amenities such as theatres, convention centres and to emphasise good corporate culture and training for local residents, of which 90 percent are employed by the casinos.

Macau’s casino industry, which contributes 80 percent of government revenue, has boomed since 2002 and has grown into a $45bn powerhouse seven times bigger than Las Vegas. Last year its growth took a hit when revenue growth turned negative, falling by 30.4 percent in December. This saw shares fall by 30 percent to 40 percent in six months.

In comments given on Chinese state television, Xi said: “It is important for Macau to adopt a global, nationwide, future-oriented and long-term perspective, formulate appropriate plans and blueprints for its development and promote sound economic and social development.”

Focus on building a global tourism and leisure centre…promote the Macanese economy’s appropriate diversification and sustainable development. This is of great importance for the interests of the people of Macau.”

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