HONG KONG May 6 Macau casino operator SJM
Holdings Ltd, controlled by the family of gambling
tycoon Stanley Ho, posted a 12 percent year-on-year increase in
first-quarter net profit, buoyed by strong interest from
cash-rich Chinese gamblers.
SJM on Monday reported net profit of HK$1.9 billion ($240
million) for the first three months of 2013, compared with
HK$1.7 billion a year earlier.
Macau, a former Portuguese colony, is the only place in
China where citizens can legally gamble in casinos.
Gambling revenue in Macau, an hour from Hong Kong by ferry,
has remained robust with each month raking in more than half of
the Las Vegas strip's annual take of $6 billion. Macau is the
only place in China where citizens can legally gamble in
Valued at around $14 million, SJM has the largest market
share among the six licensed operators, with 27 percent.
SJM was the sole operator in Macau's lucrative gaming market
for 40 years before the entry of foreigners including Las Vegas
stalwarts Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson in 2004. It has managed
to stay competitive, even as new resort properties open on
Macau's Cotai strip.
Analysts said a 10 percent growth in gaming revenues for the
first quarter was decent considering the operator was not
present on Cotai.
The Cotai strip - a reclaimed stretch of land situated five
minutes drive from the main peninsula where SJM has its 17
casinos - is fast becoming the centre of gaming in Macau.
Operators Sands China Ltd, Melco Crown
Entertainment Limited and Galaxy Entertainment Group
Ltd have been expanding their footprint there, drawing
Chinese punters away from the peninsula.
SJM, which is expected to open a new casino on Cotai in 2016
pending government approvals, has the second highest cash
balance among 170 casino and gaming companies globally at $3
billion, Thomson Reuters data shows.
Shares in SJM rose 2.5 percent on Monday and are up 10
percent since the start of the year. Like Macau gaming peers,
SJM has continued to outperform the Hang Seng benchmark index
which is up 1.1 percent in the same period.