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Wire ASIA & OCEANIA


Moody's set Timeline for Macau Recovery


Moody's analysts predict Macau’s economy could rebound back to pre-Covid-19 levels by 2024, though the journey could be a rough one.


Analysts at Investors Service Moody’s predict that although the SAR's economy has been seriously hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Macau maintains strong sovereign finances and fiscal reserves that will allow it to deploy them to support the population.


Moody's said: “Te growth volatility of Macau’s economy is among the highest of all rated sovereigns. While efforts to diversify growth away from the gaming industry have been ongoing since 2015-16, Moody's does not expect them to yield material results over the near- term. But despite the highly volatile nature of economic growth, Macau’s vast fiscal and external reserves - significantly stronger than those of similarly rated peers - and very high per capita incomes continue to support its credit profile. Te stable outlook reflects Moody's expectations that economic activity will likely be restored to pre-pandemic levels by 2024, spurred by a recovery in the gaming sector, and that the impact on the labor market, while severe, will not be permanent.


“With an economy and revenue base highly reliant on gaming, the sudden stop in tourism flows as a result of the global coronavirus shock


has hit Macau hard. Te collapse in gaming revenues resulted in real GDP falling over 56 per cent year-on-year in 2020,” it added. “However, Macau’s vast fiscal and external buffers have allowed it to deploy significant stimulus measures over the course of the past year. Total fiscal stimulus amounted to MOP 52.6bn, or 27 per cent of GDP in 2020, and a further 12 per cent of Moody’s estimated GDP in 2021. Tese measures have limited the impact of the slump in economic activity on domestic demand.”


Measured by the standard deviation of real GDP between 2010 and 2019, Macau had the most volatile growth among all rated sovereigns, behind only Bermuda and Venezuela. Moody's added: “Macau’s gaming industry is vulnerable to slower growth in China and Chinese government policies, as well as to competition from neighboring destinations, such as Cambodia, Singapore, and Japan. Moreover, as an SAR under the 'one country two systems' policy, Macao's credit profile is closely tied with that of China's across economic, institutional, and political aspects. Under Moody's assumptions, a full recovery in tourist arrivals, and therefore, gaming revenues, will not occur until early 2023.


Australia Aristocrat half year results increase 12 per cent


A strong recovery in its key markets in the US, Australia and New Zealand has helped Aristocrat Leisure to a half-year net profit of AU$346m (US$269m) for the six months to March 31 2021, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2020.


Aristocrat said the increase was driven by exceptional product performance and customer engagement along with strong consumer sentiment and economic conditions in the US and ANZ region. Aristocrat CEO and Managing Director, Trevor Croker, said: “Tese results reflect the fact that we have the right strategy and made the right choices to sustain our investment in outstanding people and product, customers, talent and


culture throughout the COVID- impacted period. As a result, we have maintained our leadership of key markets and segments, while also growing our share in Digital games, where we are now a top five game publisher in tier one Western markets.


“We expect economic conditions across key markets over the full year to remain uncertain, as a result of COVID-driven volatility. We are monitoring key factors including consumer sentiment, venue patronage and currency headwinds," he added. “We will continue to rigorously execute our strategy over the second half of fiscal 2021, with increased investment in D&D, UA to support game launches and existing games and strategic capabilities.”


Macau


In the run up to issuing new casino licences, Macau law maker, Ella Lei Cheng I, has said that legislators want the government to assess how each of Macau’s casino operators has performed and how they have behaved. Te suggestion comes prior to the Legislative Assembly consultation session which will be used to garner opinions on changes to Macau’s gaming legislation. Law makers have concerns about the process of public consultation for the re- tendering of licences and whether new gaming licences will be offered. “Te government emphasised that the public consultation will start in the second half of this year,” Ms Lei said. “Te government only listened to legislators’ views and did not reveal more details about the gaming licences issues.”


JAPAN – Japanese pachinko and casino operator Sega Sammy Holdings, who is also a supplier for the industry, saw a 90.7 per cent drop in profit to Y1.27bn (US$11.6m) for the financial year ended March 31. Sega Sammy’s joint venture partnership with Korea’s Paradise Co in South Korea’s Paradise City, saw guest levels plunge by 45.5 per cent with net sales falling 39.7 per cent to JPY6.32bn (US$57.7m).


Sega Sammy reported: “In the resort industry, demand for both domestic and overseas travel dropped, resulting in a drastically reduced numbers of tourists due to the impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions imposed by each country. The recovery in domestic tourism demand was observed during "Go to Travel Campaign" launched by the national government in July 2020, but travel demand has once again been sluggish mainly due to the suspension of the campaign announced in December 2020 and restrictions on economic activities following the declaration of a state of emergency that was issued again in January 2021.”


ASIA – QTech Games, a games distributor for Asia and growth markets, has appointed Staffan Lindgren to the combined roles of Global CEO and Chairman, as it seeks to expand its scope and global footprint across the industry.


Mr. Lindgren was brought into QTech Games’ structure via last year’s major merger with prominent games reseller, Epic Media, a move which consolidated the QTech platform’s position for taking the online games to market across emerging territories. Mr. Lindgren is also a co-founder of the gaming provider NYX Interactive, which subsequently became part of the NYX Gaming Group.


AUSTRLIA – Senet has launched its gambling regulatory education programme, Regulating the Game, offering specialised training for organisations in the gambling sector. The programme is to be rolled out for the first time in Australia thanks to a partnership between Australia’s gambling law, regulatory, and compliance advisory, Senet, and the International Centre for Gaming Regulation (ICGR).


Senet’s five-day gambling regulation education programme, Regulating the Game, is aimed at providing attendees with deeper sector knowledge and an understanding of key compliance and regulatory principles and how to apply them.


The announcement comes as a royal commission examines the regulation of the gambling industry in WA, informed by the New South Wales Bergin probe, as well as a royal commission being undertaken in the state of Victoria.


WIRE / PULSE / INSIGHT / REPORTS P25


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