Macau casino revenue falls in December the most in almost four years

FILE PHOTO: People walk in front of Casino Lisboa in Macau, China December 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau fell 13.7% in December from a year earlier, marking the steepest decline in close to four years.

Overall revenues in 2019 fell 3.4%, hit by tepid demand from high rollers amid the Sino-U.S. trade war and protests in neighboring Hong Kong, figures from the city’s gaming bureau show.

The year’s revenue decline follows two years of gains in the former Portuguese colony and comes as a closely watched transition of a new government administration is underway.

December’s revenue slide was the biggest since a 16.3% drop in March 2016.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Macau for three days in December to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its handover to China.

His trip, which saw the swearing in of Macau’s new government, was a key reason for December’s muted gambling revenues due to tight security and restrictions on visas which kept many gamblers away.

($1=8.02 patacas)

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Writing by Farah Master; Editing by Neil Fullick