Electronic gaming machines are Macau casinos’ only growing vertical

macau-electronic-gaming-machinesMacau casino revenue may be in the dumps, but electronic gaming machines (EGM) continue to grow in popularity.

Macau posted its 15th straight month of gaming revenue decline in August, but lost among the sea of negative numbers was yet another strong performance by EGM, in particular the ‘stadium-style’ multi-seat electronic table game (ETG) set-ups.

Union Gaming analysts estimated that Macau’s EGM accounted for revenue of MOP 1.05b (US $131m) in August. While still a fraction of the overall MOP 18.6b Macau casinos earned that month, EGM’s 5.7% share of August’s revenue represented an all-time high and EGM revenue was up 8.5% from July’s figure.

Macau casino operators had begun embracing EGM long before Macau’s current revenue slump began, in part because each stadium ETG set-up accounts for only a single table under Macau’s restrictive gaming table cap. They also served as a way to cater to budget-minded gamblers, who were on the verge of being priced out of regular table game action as operators boosted minimum bets and shifted more of their scarce tables from mass to premium mass and VIP.

The ETG are increasingly important now that the herds of VIPs and premium mass bettors have grown thin. Operators are becoming more cost-conscious, and the stadium ETGs require only a handful of staffers to serve over 100 gamblers at a time.

Macau Business Daily fingered Sands China as the EGM frontrunner with an estimated 34.4% of Macau’s total EGM market. Sands’ EGM fondness isn’t limited to Macau, as Las Vegas Sands recently won permission to introduce up to 150 ETG seats at its Sands Bethlehem property in Pennsylvania, the first such ETG installation in the state.

Melco Crown Entertainment was a distant EGM second in Macau, with a market share of 21.2%, but well ahead of Galaxy Entertainment Group’s 13.9%. MGM China notched 11.1%, just above Wynn Macau’s 11%, while SJM Holdings brought up the rear with 8.4%.