STDM Portuguese casino operations lose MOP18.5 mln

The Macau company founded by Stanley Ho saw its losses in Portugal increase 95 per cent, which it puts down to heavy gaming taxes and declining revenues

Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM) casinos in Portugal recorded losses of MOP18.5 million (1.74 million euros) during 2014. The group cited decreasing gaming revenue and increasing taxes as the reason.
In Portugal, STDM’s subsidiary Finansol – Sociedade de Controlo SGPS S.A. controls casinos in Estoril, Lisbon and Póvoa de Varzim via holding company Estoril Sol SGPS S.A.. The latter company revealed to the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) that from 2013 to 2014 the company’s losses increased 95 per cent from 889,120 euros to 1.74 million euros.
Considering the three casinos operating in Portugal related to STDM only the casino in Lisbon managed to generate profits, totalling 8.9 million euros (MOP81.2 million). By contrast, Casino da Póvoa de Varzim, located near Oporto, recorded losses of 7.15 million euros (MOP65.2 million) while the casino in Estoril generated losses of 1.96 million euros (MOP18.8 million).
During 2014, the gaming revenues of the group declined 3.1 per cent from 173.6 million euros (MOP1.6 billion) to 168.2 million euros (MOP1.5 billion), reflecting the overall trend of the gaming market in Portugal, which decreased around 2 per cent to 267 million euros.
‘The high and inadequate taxes on gaming, considering the economic situation of Portuguese casinos, have strongly conditioned the activities of the sector and Grupo Estoril operations’, the message from the board explains.
Group Estoril controls three of the existing eleven casinos in Portugal: its board includes Stanley Ho Hung Sun as Chairman, Ambrose So Shu Fai, Pansy Ho Chiu King and banker Patrick Huen Wing Ming.

Criticism of Portuguese Government
The annual report of Estoril Sol is highly critical of the policies of the Portuguese Government towards the gaming sector.
The main criticism is the taxes on gaming, which, concerning the casino in Póvoa de Varzim, account for 65 per cent of gaming revenue, amounting to 24.2 million euros out of a total of 37.2 million euros. The casinos in Estoril and Lisbon attract taxes of 50 per cent of revenue. ‘The less gaming revenues are generated, the more taxes have to be paid’, the board of the company wrote in the situation report.
Estoril Sol also attacked illegal online betting and the new law that will come into effect on 28 June legalising online gambling in Portugal.
‘The State allowed online gaming companies to operate illegally in Portugal to the point that Tourism of Portugal, the entity supervising and monitoring the Portuguese casinos, sponsored a national motorcycle racing championship in partnership with one of thoese illegal operators’, the company states.
Concerning the new legislation on online gaming, Estoril Sol says that the Portuguese Government decided unilaterally to scrap the exclusive right of casino operators to explore the gaming sector in Portugal. The company stressed that the operators paid for this right when the gaming licences were distributed.
J.S.F.