Macau Must Diversify, Says Government Leader

Island government may insist that gambling companies show non-gambling developments in their future plans

Diversification was the one of the main themes of Macau chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-On when he presented his annual policy address this week, warning that his government is to strengthen its oversight of gambling companies, and may require that they regularly present development plans for review, and that these should also embrace non-gambling projects.
The official said that in just over a decade Macau has by a considerable margin displaced Las Vegas as the world's greatest gambling venue, but in the process the island has become dependent on gambling for around 85 percent of its income.
He also pointed out that the past nine months have seen declining revenues for the casino resorts, and that this had had a 17 percent negative impact on fourth quarter gross domestic product, illustrating the need for diversification as gambling undergoes an adjustment.
The Macau special region government has revised downward its estimated revenue from gambling taxes this year from 27.5 billion patacas a month to an average of 20 billion patacas (around US$2.5 billion) a month in a climate where independent analysts are predicting a second difficult year that could see a further 30 percent dip in business.
Chui revealed that a tourism team under his leadership is to draft a five-year plan that will make the island less reliant on gambling revenues, and more of a leisure and tourism destination.

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