HONG KONG (Reuters) - Casinos in the world’s biggest gambling hub of Macau booked a 20 percent rise in revenue in August, the 13th consecutive month of gain, and a month in which two deadly typhoons left as much as half the city without power and water.
All casinos in the Chinese territory reported power cuts and water shortages ranging from several hours to as many as four days after the typhoons first hit on Aug. 23, causing extensive damage and killing 10 people.
Year-on-year revenue growth nevertheless continued, with August reaching 22.7 billion patacas ($2.82 billion) government data showed. That compared with the 17 to 22 percent growth that analysts estimated, taking the typhoon impact into account.
Analysts said the typhoons lost casinos 5 to 7 percent in monthly gross gaming revenue, but expect recovery in September. The impact was less acute along Macau’s Las Vegas-style Cotai strip due to newer infrastructure and back-up power generators.
The first typhoon, Hato, reached the highest severity of “signal 10” on a five-grade scale - the first signal 10 since 1999. The second, Pakhar, was two notches down, at which most businesses are required to close. Those able to stay open, such as casinos, typically double staff pay.
Hato brought winds with speeds of over 200 kph (124 mph) which ripped through buildings, crippled critical infrastructure and caused widespread flooding.
To help with the clean up, China’s People’s Liberation army were deployed onto Macau’s streets for the first time since Portugal returned the territory to China in 1999.
Public criticism on social media centered on whether adequate warning was given ahead of the typhoons and on the government’s handling of them. The authorities have since launched an investigation into the territory’s weather observatory and former director, who resigned after the first typhoon.
Casinos will begin to return to business as usual from the coming weekend with the resumption of package tours. However some public events have been canceled, including the international fireworks contest, a major tourist draw.
($1 = 8.0520 patacas)
Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Christopher Cushing