Sunday 24. January, 2016

Chinese Crackdown Puts Australian Casinos on the Block

The impact of China’s crackdown on capital outflow is expected to reach as far as Australia and have a significant impact on The Crown and Star Entertainment. Beijing’s measures to tighten foreign currency transactions, together with its campaign against corruption have already prevented VIP gamblers from visiting Macau and this impact is expected to start reaching as far as Australia.

To work around China’s capital control rules, operators use China’s underground banking network to lend money to high roller customers. However, as Macau has come under greater scrutiny, many of these operators have considered other markets, such as Australia. Crown Entertainment and The Star Entertainment Group have benefited from this; however, as China tightens its controls, Australia may begin to feel the pinch as well.

“There has been this idea that a good chunk of the lost VIP revenue from Macau would simply find a new home in places like Australia,” explained an industry source. “But if China wants to stem the flow of money, it’s not just Macau that is on the block; casinos in Australia will also have to check their expectations.”

In addition, while the VIP gaming revenue in Australia and New Zealand has grown steadily over the past 12 months, it represents a fraction of the amount lost in Macau. Turnover from Crown high rollers increased in 2015 by 41 percent to $71 billion and at The Star high roller revenue increased 53 percent to $46.2 billion.

Despite this, Macau continues to dominate the VIP gambling scene with a 75 percent share, while Australia has only 3 percent and Las Vegas about 5 percent global share.

Harold Mitchell, Crown director said the trend for VIP high rollers, particularly Chinese tourists, to visit Australia is strong and that the leisure and casino industries will benefit.


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