Macau Gross Gaming Revenue Tops Expectations in March, Casinos Win $3.2B

Posted on: April 1, 2019, 11:51h. 

Last updated on: April 1, 2019, 11:51h.

Macau gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled MOP25.84 billion ($3.2 billion) in March, a negligible loss of 0.4 percent.

Macau gross gaming revenue March
Macau casinos won roughly the same amount of money last month as they did a year ago. (Image: Kosu Blog)

The $3.2 billion haul surpassed analyst expectations, which predicted the world’s richest gambling hub would see a decline between three and six percent. Better than expected hold on VIP play, along with continued increased in mass market play, was cited for the monthly performance.

March was better than feared… thanks to solid mass demand and favorable VIP luck,” JP Morgan Asia Pacific analyst DS Kim said.

The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau – stylized DICJ – reports that the six licensed casino operators won more than $9.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019. That’s a 0.5 percent decline compared to the same three-month period in 2018.

The government recently decided to extend MGM Resorts and SJM Holdings’ licenses by two years, meaning all six licensed casino operators – Sands, Wynn, MGM, Melco, SJM, and Galaxy – will see their concessions expire concurrently in 2022.

Mass Appeal

Macau, the only area in the People’s Republic of China where gambling is permitted, continues to pivot toward becoming a more appealing locale for the general public. Long desired by mainland high rollers, the crackdown on VIP junket groups between 2014 to 2016 catering to the country’s wealthiest citizens resulted in the operators of the multibillion-dollar resorts developing attractions that appeal to a wider demographic.

While GGR is flat in 2019, visitation continues to increase. A record 35.8 million people ventured to the enclave last year, a 10 percent gain on the previous year.

Last year’s opening of the Hong Kong to Macau bridge, a 34-mile infrastructure across the Pearl River Delta, is helping fuel increased visitation. The expanse drastically cuts auto travel between the two enclaves to under an hour’s drive.

2019 is off to a strong start, as the Chinese Lunar New Year saw visitation jump nearly 27 percent. The enclave recorded 1.21 million arrivals during the weeklong holiday.

Macau Economy

With a threatening global recession lurking – one potential cause being the ongoing trade talks between the US and China – economic analysts believe Macau must continue to diversify its appeal in order to assure its fiscal stability.

In its annual review, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the Special Administrative Region government should implement programs that encourage the six licensed casino operators to further invest in non-gaming amenities and attractions.

In its concluding statement, the IMF opines, “Authorities have the opportunity to further advance their growth strategy and should craft the new regulations with stronger incentives for operators to expand non-VIP tourism.”

VIP gaming revenue, which once accounted for the majority of GGR in Macau, represented less than half of all casino win last year. IMF analysts say the government should consider ways to ease congestion amid growing tourism “to accommodate the higher number of tourists under a mass market and non-gaming model.”