This Week in Poker: Macau on the March
Where would Macau be without gambling? This tiny part of the world, just southwest of Hong Kong, has been a gambling hotbed since the 1850s, when it was under Portuguese control. But it wasn’t until 2001 that business really started picking up. By 2007, Macau was bringing in more gaming revenue than Las Vegas. About half of Macau’s total revenue comes from tourists on gambling junkets (and Tom Dwan, if rumors of his poker demise are accurate). That was until recently.
The last few years have been rough for Macau’s casinos, as they’ve been faced with additional crackdowns by the Chinese government. Macau ended up posting 26 consecutive losing months until this August. Bloomberg reports that Macau’s casinos saw revenues of about US$2.36 billion last month, an increase of 1.1 percent compared to August 2015. It’s still a far cry from Macau’s peak in 2013, when the region brought in a total of $45.2 billion on the year, but it’s an improvement upon the 1.5 percent loss that operators were expecting.
It isn’t the stereotypical high-rollers causing this uptick in revenues, either. The Chinese government has given Macau a mandate to cater more to recreational bettors, and it’s those low-rollers that are driving the growth. According to Bloomberg, revenues from “mass market” customers jumped by 3.2 percent in July, while revenues from high rollers fell 11 percent. Expect more of the same with Wynn Palace having just opened on August 22 on the Cotai Strip.
Run, Forrest, Run
Most poker players dream about winning a World Series of Poker bracelet. Winning six bracelets? It sounds like everything you could possibly hope for, but think again: On Friday, authorities in Las Vegas issued an arrest warrant for Ted Forrest, who’s charged with writing a pair of bad checks totaling $215,000 while he was at the Wynn in 2012-13. Nevada laws are very strict when it comes to bounced checks.
This appears to be the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute between Forrest and the Wynn. It was a civil case at first, with Forrest admitting to owing the casino $270,000. The Mirage also filed suit against Forrest in July 2015 over a $40,500 debt, and won the case. The Las Vegas Review-Journal said on Friday that it was “unclear” whether the debt was eventually paid. Forrest has over $6.3 million in tournament earnings on his résumé, including three cashes at this year’s WSOP for just over $80,000 in total.