Beijing has cracked down on Macau’s gambling business under a new drive for morality, leading to suggestions that its day as a gambling mecca may soon be over.
The semi-autonomous region raked in over $35bn from its casinos in the pre-pandemic year, 2019, and has one of the most consistent GDP per capita in the world. But China now believes that Macau has become too dependent upon gambling, which contributes around 70 per cent of that GDP.
The arrest of junket company Suncity’s CEO Alvin Chau last month came as the Chinese government takes steps to bring Macau’s economy more under direct control.
A new campaign aims to suppress anything that the government feels is immoral and undesirable in the region, ranging from limiting how much real estate developers can borrow to banning effeminate male characters in video games.
According to London’s Sunday Telegraph, China wants to diversity the Macau economy beyond gambling and encourage general tourism.
The newspaper quotes Ben Lee, managing partner of IGamX Management and Consulting, who said: “It is obvious that China has had enough of Macau’s gambling and its reliance on the mainland for the bulk of its revenue.”
Alvin Chau was arrested for alleged money laundering and organised crime and is currently awaiting trial. Since the arrest of Chau and 10 accomplices, share prices of casinos have been on the slide in Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange, suggesting, says the newspaper, that things are going to change in Macau.