Macau casino gaming revenue fell 6.1% in August, the third straight month of decline, causing many observers to question their faith in God. The 35 casinos in the world’s top casino gambling hub reported gaming revenue of MOP 28.9b (US $3.62b), down nearly MOP 2b year-on-year. In percentage terms, August’s decline was greater than the 3.6% fall recorded in July or the 3.7% decline in June – and August wasn’t competing with the 2014 FIFA World Cup for gamblers attentions.
However, those searching for a silver lining can take solace in the fact that August’s revenue total was MOP 460m ($57.6m) more than July’s. For the year to date, Macau’s gaming revenue is MOP 250.4b ($31.4b), up 8.1% over the same period last year, thanks mainly to the 40% gain in February during the traditional Lunar New Year surge.
Macau’s summer struggles have been blamed on a number of causes, most notably the Chinese government’s ongoing crackdown on corruption, which has put a serious crimp in the volume of VIP gamblers willing to be seen spending big at Macau’s gaming tables. Commenting on August’s numbers, analysts at Credit Suisse AG said the crackdown, in conjunction with the new limitations imposed on the issuance of travel visas, had created “increasing inconvenience” for both VIPs and ‘premium mass’ gamblers, “lowering their incentive to visit Macau.”
Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang echoed these sentiments, saying the VIP sector had undergone a year-on-year decline in the “mid-teens” in August. She added that junket operators had witnessed a noticeable drop in VIP players from neighboring Guangdong province following recent anti-graft arrests in Guangdong and Shanxi. On the plus side, the mass market continues to show up in strength, with Union Gaming Research Macau’s Grant Govertsen suggesting August’s mass revenue grew in the “mid-high teens” year-on-year.
In terms of operators’ market share of August’s table game revenue, Deutsche Bank’s Tang gave Sands China the crown with 25%, beating out Macau’s traditional leader SJM Holdings at 22%, with Galaxy Entertainment Group not far off the pace at 21%. Melco Crown Entertainment was well back with 13%, while Wynn Macau scored 10% and MGM China earned 9%.