Macau Gross Gaming Revenue August Forecast Adjusted Down by Analysts, Trade War Casts Economic Uncertainty

Posted on: August 7, 2019, 08:05h. 

Last updated on: August 7, 2019, 12:11h.

Macau gross gaming revenue (GGR) projections for August are being lowered by analysts after the month began slow in the world’s richest casino market.

Macau gross gaming revenue trade war
Macau will see a downtick in gross gaming revenue this month, analysts predict. (Image: Bloomberg)

Brokers at Sanford C. Bernstein and Nomura both observed weaker play in the Chinese Special Administrative Region during the first week of the month. As a result, the analysts are reining in their August projections.

“The first four days of August (comprising a full weekend) started off poorly, with low VIP volumes (hold was around normal) and softer-than-anticipated mass,” Sanford’s note read. “Delivering positive growth in August would need to rely on outsized VIP volumes and higher hold – something not in our forecast.”

Nomura is calling for GGR of MOP25 billion to MOP26 billion ($3.1-$3.22 billion). That would be a roughly two to five percent decrease compared to August 2018. Sanford’s estimate is in the same range.

Market Hurdles

Gross gaming revenue is down 0.9 percent January through July, a loss of roughly $197 million. The analysts blamed Tropical Storm Wipha for the slow August start.

As for last month, the brokerage firms cited the escalating protests in Hong Kong regarding a legislative effort to pass an extradition bill — seen by many as the mainland People’s Republic bid to obtain more power over the autonomous Special Administrative Region.

We are beginning to see a negative impact from the protests in Hong Kong, which is causing some transport disruption (on weekends, largely, so far) and beginning to create a headwind to China visitation into Hong Kong (and onward visitation into Macau),” Sanford stated.

The analysts also cited the scandal regarding VIP junket power group Suncity as a potential cause for keeping some away from the casino hub.

“The negativity surrounding Suncity continues to pressure junket VIP, as agents withdraw some funds and delay visiting Macau. Overall negativity surrounding the geopolitical and macro situation is having a negative impact on GGR,” the note concluded.

China-US Trade

Another dark cloud casting gloom and uncertainty across the region is the continued trade tensions between China and the US.

The negotiations escalated greatly this week after President Donald Trump threatened a new 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods. China responded by further devaluing its currency, which sent global markets nosediving.

A weakening mainland economy will lead to less VIP traffic to Macau.

“We hear from our people who work in the casino that customers are concerned about the trade war,” Las Vegas Sands President Robert Goldstein said recently in an email. “It is impacting some of their business.”

Goldman Sachs explained this week that it no longer expects Trump and China President Xi Jinping to strike a trade deal before the 2020 presidential election.

“While we had previously assumed that President Trump would see making a deal as more advantageous to his 2020 re-election prospects, we are now less confident that this is his view,” the financial services group stated.