Adelson sees Macau ‘at or near’ bottom of gambling downturn

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Sands China Ltd., attends a news conference for the opening of the St. Regis Macao Hotel in Macau, China, on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. Photographer: Lam Yik Fei/Bloomberg

Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson said he expects Macau’s economy and hard-hit casino industry, in the midst of an 18-month downturn, to start recovering next year.

“I think we are either at the bottom or near the bottom and then will turn around in the near future, certainly within 2016,” Adelson, the chairman of Sands China Ltd., said at a press conference today (Friday) in Macau where the casino operator is opening a 400-room St. Regis hotel.

Macau’s casino industry has been on a downward spiral since mid-2014 as China’s anti-corruption campaign keeps high rollers at bay and a slowing Chinese economy hurts mass-market gambling. Operators are bracing for an expected 32 percent decline in gross gaming revenue this year before the hoped-for rebound in 2016.

The biggest foreign operator in Macau with four casinos, Sands China is targeting to open its fifth project, the USD2.7 billion Parisian Macao, in nine to 10 months, Adelson said. The Cotai Strip project, featuring a half-size Eiffel Tower replica, is hoping to get government approval for 250 new gambling tables, he said.

“We should have enough tables – we have asked for 450 but nobody is getting what they hope for,” said Adelson. “We are hoping to get treated fairly which I’m quite confident the Macau government will do with us.”

Adelson, a major Republican Party donor, said he hasn’t decided which U.S. presidential candidate to support.

“Just to set the record straight, contrary to what people have been reading in the political publications, the Adelson family has not made up its mind,” he said. “We may just wait until a number of the primaries.” Bloomberg

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