Billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn is having a terrible 2016.
Wynn Entertainment’s stock is down 23% since the start of the year, falling to $51.68.
You can blame the same thing everyone else has been blaming for 2016’s non-stop market turmoil — China.
For years Wynn made the lion’s share of its profit from its casino property in Macau, the Chinese territory which became the world’s largest gambling center in the early 2000s. Morgan Stanley in a note last year said that 77% of Wynn’s revenue came from Macau.
Unfortunately for Wynn, the Chinese and Macau governments have made it clear that they want things to change. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive has scared customers. That, combined with a few multi-million dollar heists, has shut down many VIP rooms where high-rollers used to spend tons of money.
On Wednesday, Macau casinos regulators announced that they wouldn’t be renewing licenses for 35 junket companies. Junkets are firms that run VIP rooms within casinos.
On top of that, Chinese debit cards are now monitored on the territory, and the number of tables regulators are allowing new casinos is being set lower than previously expected. Casino revenue has taken a nose dive and a new regulator with a history of being tough on crime, Paulo Martins Chan, took office last month.
A big part of why Wynn is getting walloped, aside from the fact that so much of its revenue came from Macau, is that it’s opening up another casino in Macau in March, and Steve Wynn has made it clear he’s frustrated about the lack of clarity on how many tables it can have.
That is why Wynn is suffering worse than its peers. Las Vegas Sands’ stock is down only 15% from the start of 2016. Melco Crown — a casino firm helmed by the son of Macau scion Stanley Ho and billionaire Australian James Packer — is down 12%.
“It’s become a major issue in Macau … the impact of government policy in planning … None of us are really clear as to what our environment will be going forward. It makes planning and adjusting almost a mystical process,” he said on his company’s third-quarter conference call.
JP Morgan seems to agree. The bank cut its Wynn price target from $94 to $71 last week. It cited Wynn’s own visible frustration and macro economic headwinds as reasons for the swipe.
Unfortunately the former can’t be fixed without the latter, and the latter isn’t going anywhere fast.
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