02/25/2015, 00.00
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Beijing's anti-corruption drive sinks Macau casinos

Casino revenue in the former Portuguese colony slumped for the eight month in a row, leading casino shares to perform poorly on the benchmark Hang Seng Index. Macau authorities announce restrictions on mainland visitors. Xi Jinping urged the city to change direction.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - After shaking up Chinese politics, the anti-corruption campaign launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping is doing the same to the gambling business.

Macau's casino revenue slumped last month for the eighth consecutive month in the longest losing streak on record. Consequently, casino shares plunged on the Hang Seng Index on Monday, after Chinese New Year festivities.

Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Sands China, MGM China Holdings, and SJM Holdings lost between 2.33 and 3.73 per cent.

The decline came after a senior Macau official said the city would study restrictions on mainland Chinese tourists to ease overcrowding.

The local government plans in fact to ask Beijing to analyse Macau's capacity for visitors and consider how "too many tourists affect residents' quality of life," Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Alexis Tam Chon-weng was quoted as saying on Teledifusao de Macau.

Macau and the mainland are clearly working together on this. In the former Portuguese colony, local authorities require Beijing's approval before making major decisions.

For decades, officials with the Communist party and state-owned companies spent millions in public funds in the special autonomous region.

The current slump in Macau's casino revenue follows Xi's two-year-long crackdown on official corruption and is a signal that mainland China no longer accepts such behavior.

Last December, President Xi Jinping urged Macau to move away from its reliance on casinos and turn the city into a world tourism and leisure centre.

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