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Macau casino revenue drops 11.3 percent in Jan as coronavirus worries mount

FILE PHOTO: The Grand Lisboa casino and other buildings are seen in Macau, China December 19, 2019, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the former Portuguese colony’s return to China. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

HONG KONG(Reuters) – Gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau dropped 11.3 percent in January year-on-year, with the world’s biggest casino hub a near ghost town after authorities announced a raft of measures to keep visitors away and contain a fast-spreading new coronavirus.

January’s figure of 22.1 billion patacas ($2.76 billion) was worse than analyst expectations of a drop of around 2 percent – estimates that were made prior to the implementation of visitor restrictions last week.

Some analysts forecast a decline of at least 30% for as long as visiting restrictions are in place.

Transport links with mainland China have been curtailed, with dozens of flights and ferry services canceled. The local government has also extended the Lunar New Year break to the end of the week, keeping banks and businesses closed as the death toll from the virus outbreak topped 250 and hundreds of new cases were confirmed.

Reporting by Farah Master

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