* Revenue inline with analyst forecasts
* Visitation subdued despite easing of visa restrictions
* Liquidity crunch hampers VIP sector
HONG KONG, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Gambling revenue in Macau
plunged 94.5% in August year-on-year with casinos reeling from a
lack of visitors to the world's biggest casino hub, despite a
loosening of quarantine restrictions which have only seen a
modest rise in gamblers.
August's revenue figure of 1.3 billion patacas ($163.01
million) was in-line with analysts' expectations of a drop of
around 95 percent.
China has announced that tourist visas, through which a
majority of visitors enter Macau, would be reinstated for all
provinces from Sept. 23.
Residents from the neighbouring coastal province of
Guangdong have already been permitted to apply for visas in
August but visitor numbers have not increased significantly.
Casino executives and investors had been eagerly awaiting
the loosening of visa restrictions to revive gaming revenue,
which has slumped since February due to coronavirus-led travel
Visitor levels were around 7,000 daily in the last week of
August compared with around 100,000 in 2019.
The subdued visitation adds to a list of hurdles for the
former Portuguese colony, already hobbled by slowing economic
growth, Sino-U.S. tensions and coronavirus lockdowns.
China's crackdown on online gambling to help contain capital
outflows has hit liquidity in Macau's VIP segment, prompting
many customers in August to withdraw money from the casino
In June, Beijing had identified the cross-border flow of
funds for gambling as a national security risk.
Since then, financing channels used by the online gambling
sector and cryptocurrency lending platforms have been cut off,
with tens of thousands of suspects arrested.
Casino executives and junket operators say the crackdown is
hitting big spending VIP customers due to worries over their
financing channels via the junkets.
While China was not targeting the Macau casino industry
itself, they said the focus on money laundering and illegal
transactions put pressure on liquidity.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Kim Coghill and Amy