Macau casinos’ gaming revenue enjoyed double-digit growth in April, extending the gambling hub’s revenue winning streak.
Figures released Monday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) show market-wide gaming revenue rising 16.3% year-on-year to MOP 20.16b (US $2.5b). For the year-to-date, Macau’s gaming revenue totals MOP 83.64b, up 13.8% over the same period last year.
April’s percentage gain and overall revenue figure were both smaller than those posted in February and March but the gains nonetheless extended Macau’s current winning streak to nine straight months of year-on-year improvements after a two-year-plus stretch of negative monthly numbers.
Last week brought Q1 reports from three Macau operators – Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts – all of whom reported positive growth at their Macau operations.
According to Q1 revenue breakdowns released last month by the DICJ, Macau’s rebound has been broad-based, with both mass market and VIP gaming revenue showing signs of improvement. But a new report demonstrates how susceptible Macau’s VIP market is to negative headlines about graft on the Chinese mainland.
The Sanford C. Bernstein report tracked Macau casino VIP revenue versus the volume of publicized anti-graft actions by Beijing authorities. Not surprisingly, Macau’s recent rebound mirrors a relative paucity of major takedowns of government officials caught dipping into the public purse.
That direct relationship could prove problematic, according to Nomura analysts, who issued a note last week warning that rising customer deposits with Macau junket operators had “started to attract the attention of government regulators.”
The DICJ recently launched a previously announced audit of around half of Macau’s 126 licensed junket operators. While the audit is reportedly intended as a stress test to verify the financial resiliency of the junket industry, Nomura warned that the audits could deter customers from making further deposits, which could negatively impact VIP play at Macau casinos in the short term.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on the upcoming visit to Macau by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. The South China Morning Post reported that Zhang, who arrives in Macau on May 8, plans to make a “major announcement” on an as-yet unidentified subject.