Macau VIPs come roaring back; basketball bets up, dog and pony bets down

macau-casino-vip-gamblingMacau’s VIP gaming revenue rose 2.9% to MOP 54.8b (US $6.86b) in Q4, according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, rebounding nicely from the 1.1% VIP decline that so alarmed analysts in Q3. Mass market gaming revenue rose 28.4% year-on-year and 1.6% above Q3. For 2012 as a whole, VIP baccarat revenue rose 7.5% year-on-year to MOP 210.9b ($26.4b), good enough for 69.3% of Macau’s total gaming revenue, while mass market revenue (including slot machines) rose 30% to MOP 93.3b ($11.7b). Mass market slots revenue rose 15.9% to MOP 13.2b ($1.65b), still just 4.4% of overall casino revenue.

Slots may be something of an afterthought in Macau, but Sterne Agee’s David Bain says the unsung machines have helped push Macau’s January revenue up 19% during the first two weeks of 2013. However, Macau Business Daily reported several casino operators stating their slots tallies are being boosted not so much by the embrace of the mass market than by a few VIP gamblers looking for a change of pace from their baccarat play.

While casinos are all anyone usually thinks about when it comes to Macau, the enclave does offer other betting options. Sociedade de Lotarias e Apostas Mútuas de Macau Lda – aka Macau Slot, which holds the local sports betting monopoly – said non-racing sports betting revenue rose 15.5% to MOP 418m ($52.3m) in 2012. Basketball was a star performer, with roundball revenues rising 29.1% to MOP 111m ($13.9m). Meanwhile, over at the Macau Jockey Club, racing wagers fell 19.1% to MOP 356m ($44.6m) while greyhound racing at the Canidrome really went to the dogs, dropping 31% to MOP 205m ($25.6m).

Sociedade de Lotarias Wing Hing Lda, the company that has held the monopoly rights to offer the Pa Ka Pio Chinese lottery in Macau for the past 22 years, has won a 12-month extension to its contract. Macau’s Official Gazette stated there would be some “modifications” to the deal, without getting into specifics. Wing Hing is part of Stanley Ho’s former business empire, and counts SJM Holdings exec Angela Leong On Kei among its directors. The lottery produces annual revenues of around MOP 6m ($751k), of which Wing Hing remits 23% to the government, plus another 5% to the Macao Foundation.

Meanwhile, the Macau Government Tourist Office (GTO) reported that visitor arrivals to Macau were essentially flat in 2012, rising just 0.3% to 28m. Visitors from China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) were up 0.4% to 25m, while international visitors fell 0.5% to 3m. Visits from South Korea rose 11.2% to 400k, while Thai visitors rose 13.9% to 204k. Russia was the star performer in percentage terms, with package tour arrivals rising 122.9%, and the GTO says it will open a representative office in Russia to capitalize on Macau’s growing appeal. A recent study by Institute for Tourism Studies estimated the sustainable number of annual visitor arrivals in Macau was 29m. Of Macau’s current 26,719 guestrooms, just 1,480 are of the budget variety.