The recent restrictions on automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawals in Macau have yet to negatively affect the special administrative region’s casino industry, according to Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd.
Figures released by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) showed July’s gaming revenue hitting MOP23 billion (US$2.86 billion), a growth of 29 percent over the same month last year, nearly 15% higher than June’s result and the biggest year-on-year monthly gain since February 2014.
“With July’s above-consensus GGR in the rearview it appears, as we had expected, that there has been no measurable impact from the installation of KYC [know your customer] measures across Macau’s ATMs,” Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said in a note.
Holders of mainland China-issued UnionPay bank cards were told in July that they would only be able to withdraw cash in the city state at ATMs that allow face recognition verification. The order came several weeks after the Macau government said it will require more intrusive security checks at ATMs. Holders of UnionPay bank card, particularly those from China, will have to scan their identity cards at ATMs and also pass facial recognition scans before they will be able to withdraw cash.
The “Big Brother”-style security checks were part of the special administrative region’s measures to tighten cash flow restrictions out of mainland China.
“We continue to believe that these measures were not put in place to stunt the growth of GGR (VIP or mass), but rather view the measures as generic capital control measures designed to slow a widespread issue of non-casino visitors to Macau coming to the market with the express intention of withdrawing Hong Kong dollars out of their renminbi accounts,” Govertsen said.
July’s positive result also marks one full year since Macau began its upward trajectory after experiencing more than two years of consecutive monthly gaming revenue declines. For the year-to-date, Macau’s gaming revenue is up nearly 19% to MOP149.3 billion.
Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) credited much of Macau’s gain to the return of VIP gamblers, whose increasing confidence in both spending money in Macau and being seen spending money in Macau has been on ample display in the recent quarterly reports of Macau casino operators.