Macau Mass Market Crucial to Gaming Hub Recovery Hopes

Posted on: July 28, 2020, 12:38h. 

Last updated on: July 28, 2020, 02:20h.

Macau’s hopes to rejuvenate its ailing gaming industry lie more with mass market gamblers than high rollers. That could be a positive over the long-term, but presents challenges at a time when travel to the gaming center is still limited, according to analysts.

Macau Revival Needs Mass Market, Analysts Say
Travelers in front of the famous Casino Lisboa. Macau’s recovery hopes lie with mass market players, according to analysts. (Image: ABC News)

A new report by research firm Bernstein highlights the importance of ordinary players to the fortunes of Macau concessionaires, noting that future gross gaming revenue (GGR) growth in the special administrative region (SAR) will be sourced more from mass market players than VIPs.

Data confirms that gamblers lacking big bankrolls are increasingly important parts of the Macau GGR picture. As recently as 2011, mass market players represented just 27 percent of Macau’s annual GGR. But over the past decade, that demographic steadily accounted for a bigger slice of the SAR’s gaming turnover. It now drives more activity than high rollers, according to Bernstein.

That underscores the importance of reopening travel with more regions of mainland China and Beijing resuming issuance of individual visit scheme (IVS) visas.

Currently, we are all waiting. I hope that Macau can convey confidence to all the different authorities [in the mainland] and that they consider resuming [the issuance of] visas,” said Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) Director Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes in remarks to local media yesterday.

Senna Fernandes added that no talks between Macau and Beijing are currently being held regarding IVS issuance or travel controls.

Mass Benefits

In the world’s largest gaming center, some operators, such as Melco Resorts & Entertainment (NASDAQ:MLCO) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), are more levered to VIP customer trends. Conversely, rivals such as Galaxy Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) depend more on mass market players.

The latter could be a good place to be for concessionaires and investors alike over the next several years. Bernstein forecasts it will take until 2023 before Macau GGR tops 2019 levels. But 2023 could bring a record turnover of $47 billion, driven by compound annual growth of eight percent in the mass segment.

Fortunately for Galaxy and LVS, Guangdong province recently ended its quarantine policy pertaining to travelers arriving from Macau. That’s important, because Guangdong accounts for 30 percent of mass market and 15 percent of VIP GGR, according to Bernstein.

On the Horizon

Currently, travelers from across mainland China can enter Macau. However, with IVS issuance halted, returning home is the issue. Compounding the gaming hubs woes is that Beijing is freezing IVS permits for individuals and tour groups.

Additionally, Hong Kong is experiencing a major uptick in coronavirus cases. For the two weeks ending July 27, 1,163 new cases appeared in that SAR, and authorities said the origins of nearly 500 couldn’t be traced.

That’s relevant to Macau’s rebound aspirations because, after Guangdong, Hong Kong is the second-largest feeder market to the gaming mecca.