Macao's gaming industry sees profit hike

Tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun's Macao Gaming Co. Ltd (SJM), which owns all of currently operating casinos in Macao, reported 3.3 billion patacas (412 million US dollars) in net profits last year, an increase of 50 percent on 2002.

Ho revealed on Wednesday that the Macao Jockey Club, which he also chairs, made a modest net profit of 42 million patacas (5 million US dollars) last year. The club is engaging in a "good neighborhood agreement" with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which would enable Hong Kong and Macao horse-racing gamblers to take bets in each other's jockey clubs.

The only money-losing gambling assets of Ho was his greyhound racing track, which is also a tourist attraction in Macao. The 82-year old casino magnate has dominated Macao's gaming industry since 1962. All of his gaming properties are managed by SJM, whichemploys around 9,000 people and runs all 12 casinos in Macao.

SJM paid 10.17 billion patacas (1.3 billion US dollars) in casino gross-revenue tax to the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government last year, an increase of 33 percent on 2002.

Ho said that he is confident that his gaming regime could pay 14 billion patacas (about 1.8 billion US dollars) in casino gross-revenue tax this year.

The estimation was based on the rosy picture in casino revenuesin the first two month. Figures from the Macao Finance Services showed that the combined casino revenue increased by 33 percent onthe scores in the year-ago period to reach 2 billion patacas (250 million US dollars).

Macao's casinos pay 35 percent of their gross revenue to the government as tax. Casino concessionaires are obliged to pay an additional five percent of their gross revenue to support cultural,educational, social and other public causes.

SJM was set up in 2002 through a reshuffle of Stanley Ho's amusement conglomerate in order to take the bidding of the government-issued casino-operating concessions. It is the only oneof the three licensed casino operators in Macao, as the other two concessionaires, namely Hong Kong-based Galaxy Casino with its sub-concession of The Venetian from Las Vegas, and Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts, are doing prophase works to launch their casinos.

Both Galaxy and The Venetian are expected to open their first casinos in Macao in early summer. Wynn Resorts said earlier this year that it expects to launch construction of its first casino-hotel resort in Macao in the second half of the year.

Source: Xinhua

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