Visa restrictions on mainland Chinese visitors to Macau led to a significant loss in gaming revenue in the first half of 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported. Macau casino operator SJM Holdings said its first-half net profit fell 40.8% from a year earlier because of tightened restrictions imposed by Beijing, widely seen as an attempt to stop gambling and money laundering by mainland civil servants. But the company, which currently operates 19 of Macau’s 32 casinos, said the second half of 2009 had started well, with total gaming revenue in Macau rising significantly. Analysts said that the economic recovery in mainland China and Hong Kong, as well as an easier credit environment and higher consumer confidence, would lead to a strong recovery in Macau’s gambling market in the second half. Macau’s monthly gaming revenue in August hit a record high, rising 17% from a year earlier and 18% from July.
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