Macau casinos won’t recover until VIPs have a chance to “catch their breath”

TAGs: iao kun group holding company ltd., Macau

macau-casino-vip-recuperateMacau casino junket operator Iao Kun Group Holdings (IKGH) says the VIP gambling sector won’t recover until China’s high rollers have a chance to “catch their breath and recuperate.”

IKGH says rolling chip turnover at its five Macau VIP gaming rooms fell 72% to $440m in August, mirroring the rate of decline IKGH reported in July. On the plus side, August’s win rate was 4.13%, well above the theoretical range of 2.7% to 3% but below July’s stellar 4.52%. For the year-to-date, turnover is down 62% to $4.8b.

IKGH reported a net loss of $23.8m in Q2 2015 and hope is fading for a turnaround in the near future. Macau casinos recorded their 15th straight month of revenue decline in August and CLSA Ltd analyst Aaron Fischer expressed concern that the recent opening of Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Galaxy Macau Phase 2 “hasn’t grown the market to the extent that we expected.”

Analysts had been counting on Galaxy’s new digs, as well as next month’s launch of Melco Crown Entertainment’s Studio City property, to revive interest in Macau. Now those same analysts are backing away from predictions that Macau would bounce back in 2016.

On Tuesday, Deustche Bank’s Karen Tang issued a note saying investors need to “massively cut” their 2016 expectations. Tang suggested 2016 gaming revenue would likely be down 7% year-on-year and casino operator earnings would be “18% below consensus.”

Tang said a recent two-day visit to Macau had revealed that August’s VIP weakness was due to China’s renewed clampdown on underground banking. The recent turmoil in China’s stock market has also depleted the resources of many premium mass gamblers, leading to a decline in average spend per premium player.

Derrick Wong, financial controller at IKGH, echoed this analysis, telling Bloomberg Business that many of IKGH’s high rollers no longer “have the capital to come and play. They now need to catch their breath and recuperate.” Wong described gambling as a “spare money” activity and VIPs and premium players won’t have any money to spare “until the economy gets better.”


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