Gross gaming revenues: up, up and away

The MSAR raked in MOP22.96 billion (US$2.86 billion) in gross gaming revenue in July, the latest official figures released by the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) show.
The July numbers represent a 29.2 per cent year- on-year increase in gross gaming revenues, the 12th consecutive month of increases registered in the city and the largest yearly rise since February 2014.
According to a survey by news agency Bloomberg of nine analysts, the expected median growth consensus was set at a 26 per cent hike, with news agency Reuters saying analysts were estimating a yearly rise of between 27 and 30 per cent.

Accumulated gross gaming revenue for the first seven months of 2017 went up 18.9 per cent year-on- year to reach MOP149.34 billion. On a monthly comparison, gross gaming revenues in July went up by 14.9 per cent from the MOP19.99 billion registered in June.

According to gaming analyst Vitaly Umansky of Bernstein, the average daily revenue (ADR) for July was MOP741 million, an 11 per cent month-to- month increase from June’s ADR of MOP666 million.

Living on the edge

Despite the increase in VIP gaming results and the opening of new gaming facilities having helped bring players back to Macau, analysts still feel efforts by the Chinese central government to stop capital outflows from the country could pose a future risk to Macau’s gaming sector.

“Risk of heightening enforcement and potential policy pressures we had flagged have certainly not gone away,” Daiwa Capital Markets Hong Kong Ltd. analyst Jamie So told Bloomberg. According to news agency Reuters, the resurgence in spending by VIP gamers and the increase in tourist numbers contributed to the results registered in July.

According to the analyst, pressure on gaming revenues will “take time to manifest itself” and a potential negative impact caused by Chinese authorities actions could be “smooth[ed] out” by “stronger mass numbers for Summer months”.

A possible renewal of anti-corruption crackdowns ahead of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to be held this Autumn could impact gaming revenue recovery, with Bloomberg stating investors are concerned about possible new investigations of suspicious money transfers or the freezing of junket operators’ accounts.

Despite the large decrease during the 26 months of gross gaming revenue downturn registered in the city, the VIP sector has bounced back, with revenues from VIP Baccarat seeing an almost 35 per cent year-on- year increase in the second quarter of this year, reaching MOP35.86 billion.

The “VIP segment, for now, continues to see broad recovery across big and smaller junkets, a trend admittedly well above what we had envisioned,” noted DS Kim, an analyst from JP Morgan Chase & Co. However, Bernstein warns for ‘caution’ in regard to the strength and volatility surrounding VIP, with ‘high hold rates in VIP along with continued volume strength’ not allowing more accurate monthly forecasts. The analyst firm is already forecasting a possible yearly increase in gross gaming revenues for August between 22 per cent to 25 per cent, to potentially reach between MOP23 billion and MOP26 billion.