Macau casinos to halt gambling as Typhoon Mangkhut bears down

Macau’s casinos are on their first official city-wide shutdown order as Typhoon Mangkhut bears down on the special administrative region of China.

Earlier this week, as the so-called ‘super typhoon’ began tracking a path towards southern China, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau met to determine whether or not it had the authority to order the temporary closure of all casinos, given the expectation that Mangkhut’s fury could threaten local lives.

Apparently, that answer was ‘yes,’ as Macau’s Civil Protection Operations Center issued an order on Saturday that calls for all casinos to “suspend all gambling activities” effective 11pm. The government further advised all casino operators to implement the agreed upon typhoon contingency plan to protect both casino staff and guests.

Earlier Saturday, the government announced that it had granted requests from four small SJM Holdings-licensed casinos to suspend their operations as Mangkhut drew closer. All border crossings with mainland China will close at 1am and ferry services have been suspended.

Macau’s Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG) was scheduled to raise its official Typhoon Signal to level eight early Sunday morning, and that signal could be raised to its maximum level (10) depending on the storm’s expected fury when it makes land.

The SMG apparently isn’t taking any chances this time around, after coming under fierce criticism in 2017 when it was suspected of delaying the raising of the warning signal as Typhoon Hato drew closer. Macau labor laws require businesses to pay their staff overtime when the signal reaches eight or higher.

Hato brought a serious storm surge that flooded several casinos and caused the deaths of 10 local residents. Hato also resulted in a reduction in tourist traffic to Macau and blunted that month’s casino gaming revenue growth. Presumably, Mangkhut will have a similar impact on September’s gaming revenue.

Atlantic City casinos close out summer with $304m August

Atlantic City’s casino operators reported total gaming revenue up nearly one-quarter in August, driven by new verticals, new properties and a stellar showing at the gaming tables.

According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, August’s total gaming revenue hit $303.9m, a 24.1% rise over the same month last year and over $30m higher than July 2018’s result.

Even when you strip out the nearly $9.2m contributed by the state’s new sports betting licensees and the $24.8m earned by the state’s online gambling licensees, August’s brick-and-mortar gaming revenue still came in at just under $270m, 20.7% higher than August 2017’s total.

AC’s casinos saw double-digit growth in both verticals, as slots revenue rose 18.3% to $196.4m and table games shot up nearly 28% to $75.5m. August’s gains helped compensate for the weather-related slowdowns that plagued 2018’s early months. For the year-to-date, total brick-and-mortar win is up 1.2% to $1.66b.

Despite the positive numbers, most of AC’s casinos were in negative territory in August, with Bally’s leading the four decliners by falling 10.7% to $18.7m. The biggest gainer was the Golden Nugget, which improved 2.9% to $20.5m, while the Borgata (as usual) led all casinos with nearly $70.9m (+0.7%).

The bulk of the gains came from AC’s two new venues, the Hard Rock Atlantic City and the Ocean Resort Casino, both of which launched in late June. The Hard Rock had a solid showing, earning nearly $30.8m, although this was down from $32.4m in July. The Hard Rock ranked fourth among AC’s nine land-based operators.

Ocean Resort had a better month-to-month comparison, rising to $19.6m from July’s $15.8m, eclipsing the totals of both Bally’s and Resorts Casino Hotel ($18m, -3.4%).

The Tropicana earned $32.2m in August, second only to the Borgata. Thursday brought word that the DGE had granted interim approval to Eldorado Resorts’ proposed takeover of Tropicana Entertainment, the Trop’s parent company.

The Borgata’s revenue is likely to take a major swoon when September’s numbers are released, as the property issued a nearly $2.5m progressive jackpot to a Hawthorne woman on Saturday, September 1. The lucky girl hit the Wheel of Fortune Double Sapphire Gold Spin payday on what she claimed was her first spin on the machine. Typical.

Macau gaming receipts up 18.7% in 2017

Gaming-related receipts in Macau rose 18.7% year-on-year to MOP268 billion ($33.2 billion) in 2017, according to the city state government’s latest Gaming Sector Survey.

In its press release, the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) noted that it was the first year-on-year increase since 2013. Much of the growth was “driven by the growth in VIP gaming business.”

Macau gaming receipts up 18.7% in 2017The figures affirm data that DSAC had released earlier this year showing the Special Administrative Region’s gross domestic product (GDP) was up 9.1% to MOP404.2 billion ($50 billion), its best economic output since 2013, when GDP grew 11.2%.

The latest data was collected from the 10 enterprises engaged in gaming activities, whose total expenditure amounted to MOP114.9 billion ($14.2 billion), 18.5% higher than in 2016. Of the total expenditure, the purchase of goods, commission paid and customer rebates increased 23% year-on-year to MOP60.9 billion ($7.5 billion), for 53% of total expenditures.

Operating expenses, on the other hand, amounted to MOP27.9 billion ($3.5 billion), up 16.7% year-on-year. Complimentary goods and services provided to customers constituted 45.1% of the total figure, or MOP12.6 billion ($1.6 billion). Management services and contractual services constituted 18.5% of operating expenses, or MOP5.2 billion ($642 million).

Compensation of employees went up 7.4% year on year, to MOP21.3 billion ($2.6 billion). Payouts made abroad rose 51.8% to MOP5.6 billion ($697 million).

Gross value added, measuring gaming’s contribution to Macau’s overall economy, reached MOP179 billion ($22.2 billion). “Concurrently, with the increase in Gross Value Added (+17.6%) far exceeding the rise in number of full-time employees (+1.5%), Average Value Added per Full-time Employee rose by 15.8% year on year to MOP3.16 million [$392,000],” the DSEC said.

The DSEC noted a tumble of 87.2% in gross fixed capital formation, to MOP949 million ($118 million), “following the completion of several large-scale tourism and gaming facilities in 2016.”

The DSEC cited information from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, showing that the number of gaming tables of Macau’s six casino concessionaires totaled 6,419, 2.1% more than last year. The number of slot machines went up 13%, to 15,622.

Maryland casinos August gains; MGM baccarat dealer conspiracy

Maryland’s six casinos reported an overall modest gaming revenue increase in August, while the state’s biggest casino dealt with a case of insider cheating.

Figures released by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Agency showed the state’s casino operators generated combined gaming revenue of $146.3m in August, a 6.4% improvement over the same month last year, although a minor reduction from July 2018’s $146.5m.

Five of the six casinos reported year-on-year revenue gains, with the biggest gain coming via Ocean Downs Casino, which shot up 19% to $8.27m thanks to last December’s addition of the properties first table games. Ocean Downs’ 18 tables contributed over $912k to August’s result.

August’s lone decliner was Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, which reported gaming revenue falling 3.7% year-on-year to $21m. The Horseshoe is a joint operation of Caesars Entertainment and JACK Entertainment, and the latter entity was recently rumored to be putting its casino operations up for sale.

As for the rest of the field, MGM Resorts’ National Harbor maintained its usual spot atop the revenue chart with $58.3m (+10.3%), followed by Cordish Gaming’s Live! Casino & Hotel’s $47m (+5.1%), while Hollywood Casino Perryville ($6.6m, +5.2%) and Rocky Gap ($5m, +4.9%) brought up the rear.

National Harbor made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week as word broke that federal prosecutors had charged a former baccarat dealer with involvement in a cheating conspiracy dating back to September 2017. The local NBC affiliate identified the dealer as Ming Zhang, who is facing a charge of conspiracy to transport stolen funds.

According to the report, Zhang exposed a portion of his deck of cards to at least one co-conspirator, who took a photograph of the exposed cards. Zhang failed to shuffle the cards, allowing his co-conspirator to make large bets based on his advance knowledge of what cards would be dealt next.

Zhang was due to appear in US District Court on Tuesday. The documents charging Zhang state that he is believed to have had other scamming partners.