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Report: U.S. Casino Firms In Macau Vulnerable Under China Trade War

Top American Casino Operators Heavily Rely On Macau For Winnings


Macau’s casino industry recently extended its winning streak to 22 months, but escalating trade tensions between the United States and mainland China could eventually poor cold water on the market, according to a speculative report from Forbes.

As the countries move toward a “full-fledged trade war,” the U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. could be especially vulnerable considering Sheldon Adelson, the firm’s CEO and chairman, has close ties to President Donald Trump, who is pushing the trade tensions.

According to China Market Research Managing Director Shaun Rein, quoted by Forbes:

“The risks for Sheldon Anderson’s Sands casinos are quite high. It is quite possible that China will target his casinos specifically because he is a [Donald] Trump crony. It is possible they will ratchet up police surveillance of his Macau properties in order to spread fear among high rollers and even middle class gamblers that they are being checked in on by the authorities. Or they will launch an audit of their books. Either way, a move could be viewed as having plausible deniability that the government cloaks as a crackdown on corruption or tax evasion.”

Macau, the only place in China with legal casinos, has been a market of great growth not only for Sands, but also for Las Vegas-based rivals such as MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts. They have properties through their respective Hong Kong-listed subsidiaries.

MGM opened its newest casino there earlier this year. MGM, like its competitors in the Macau market, faces the expiration of its license for casino gambling in the coming years. “Macau authorities have provided little information about whether, and how, the licenses will be renewed,” Reuters reported in February, well before the trade tensions ratcheted up.

To make matters even trickier for the U.S. firms, China also indicated earlier this year that it is considering ending Macau’s casino monopoly by allowing casinos on the island of Hainan.

The roughly three dozen Las Vegas-style casinos in Macau won a combined $33 billion from gamblers last year. That was nearly three times the gambling market seen in the U.S. gambling hub of Nevada, home to the iconic Las Vegas Strip.

Tags: Macau,   China,   Trade War,   Donald Trump