Macau casino revenue hits 5-month high in May

FILE PHOTO: Traffic flows past gaming resorts at Cotai Strip in Macau, China May 15, 2018. Picture taken May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau hit a five-month high in May, although softer demand from high rollers amid a slowdown in the world’s No.2 economy and a Sino-U.S. trade war continued to keep a lid on gains.

Revenue was 25.95 billion patacas ($3.21 billion), the highest this year, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination said on Saturday, versus 25.5 billion patacas a year ago and also up from April’s monthly haul of 23.6 billion patacas.

Analysts were expecting a flat to 4% year-on-year drop.

As the special administrative region marks 20 years since its handover from Portuguese rule, slower mainland economic growth, a weaker yuan and a simmering trade war threaten to derail growth.

For operators in China’s only legal casino hub, the outlook remains challenging as Beijing pushes to rebrand Macau as a family-friendly destination.

They are plowing about $10 billion into mostly non-gaming attractions before their licenses expire in 2022 amid warnings new permits will be linked to efforts to diversify.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Himani Sarkar