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The Macau Metro Monitor, January 4, 2012

SMALL CHANGES IN THE CASINO GROSS GAMING REVENUE RANKINGS Macau Business

According to sources, December Macau market share was as follows: SJM (27%), GALAXY (20%), LVS (16%), MPEL (14%), WYNN (<14%), and MGM (9%).

MACAU CASINO BOOM FUELLED BY ILLICIT CASH Financial Times

Many gamblers bring more cash to the casino tables by using their Unionpay debit card to withdraw money - for a fee.

"There is no risk. We pretend to sell the customer an expensive watch or a piece of jewelery, charge the amount in renminbi to the debit card, and then give him the equivalent amount in Macau patacas or Hong Kong dollars as if the customer had decided to return the object for an immediate cash refund," says the manager of a pawnshop up the street from the Grand Lisboa casino.

The manager says the cardholder's records will register the transaction as a purchase.  Unionpay, which was formed by China's big banks, says it bans such transactions, but the company declined to comment on the fact that the practice remained widespread.  Unionpay said it no longer released data on how much cardholders spent in Macau.


People familiar with the industry say the Macau government cannot afford to shut down the illegal services, which hundreds of pawn shops advertise publicly on neon signs.

One former junket operator and a Hong Kong owner of a mainland factory in Guangdong province described how operators also use Hong Kong business people who own companies on the mainland to transfer money illegally.  He said operators handed over renminbi debts collected on the mainland to the factory owner, who used the money to pay his staff wages. Then, the owner sent the equivalent in Hong Kong dollars from his Hong Kong bank account to the operator's account in Macau.  Both sides profited by agreeing a mutually beneficial exchange rate.

CHINA HOUSING PRICES SLIP IN DEC VS NOV; DOWN FOR 4TH CONSECUTIVE MONTH WSJ

According to China Real Estate Index System, average housing prices in 100 major cities in China fell in December compared with November, marking the fourth consecutive sequential decline.  A survey of property developers and real-estate agencies showed the average home price in December was CNY8,809 a square meter, down from CNY8,832 in November.  Compared with a year earlier, the average price of a new property in December was up 2.86% from CNY8,564 in December 2010, a slower increase than November's 4.06% YoY rise.