Macau casinos posted a slight improvement in mass market gaming revenue in Q3, but it was enough for one analyst to conclude that mass had topped the VIP gaming sector for the first time in Macau’s history.
Figures released on Friday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) showed casino gaming revenue of MOP 54.37b (US $6.8b) in the three months ending Sept. 30. That’s 34.3% less than Macau casinos reported in the same period last year. For the year to date, revenue is down 36.2% to MOP 176b ($22b).
VIP gaming revenue came to MOP 29b, down 38% year-on-year and down 4.4% from Q2. The VIP share of Q3’s overall revenue pie sank to 53.3%, down from 56.45% in Q3 2014 and from 64.7% in Q3 2013. The VIP share is also down from the 55.5% recorded in Q2 2015.
Mass market gaming table and slots revenue fell 29.7% year-on-year to MOP 25.4b but rose 0.3% from Q2’s figure. Stripping out the slots revenue, mass market baccarat was up 0.8% sequentially. Either way, this marks the first quarter-on-quarter mass market revenue gain since Q1 2014, so allow Macau a brief moment of celebration in what has been a pretty crappy last 16 months.
Union Gaming analysts issued a note reminding everyone that the true VIP Q3 share may be even lower than reported, as Friday’s figures don’t take into account the fact that certain operators began shifting premium mass tables to VIP areas in Q4 2014 following the implementation of Macau’s partial smoking ban, which restricted smoking at gaming tables to VIP areas.
Factoring in this bit of bookkeeping sleight of hand, Union Gaming’s Grant Govertsen believes the true mass market table and slots share of Q3 revenue was 51%, marking the first time that VIP has accounted for a minority slice of the pie. Govertsen called this a “milestone event that represents the future of Macau” and a trend that should continue “for the foreseeable future.” They can only hope.