Macau casinos are celebrating after starting off the Year of the Dog more like a mighty mastiff than a wimpy Chihuahua.
According to initial stats released by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), the number of visitors descending on the special administrative region of China over the first four days (Feb. 15-18) of the Lunar New Year holiday is up 10% year-on-year to just over 500k.
Visitors from Mainland China accounted for 354k (70.8%) of the arrivals, representing an 18.5% improvement over the first four days of the 2017 Lunar New Year.
Last week, MGTO boss Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes predicted that total visitation over the weeklong New Year holiday period would be 1-3% higher than last year’s 935k visitors.
As ever, she emphasized that there’s no hard correlation between visitation and the casinos’ ultimate gaming revenue figures for the period, in part because Chinese VIPs – who still account for the majority of Macau’s gaming revenue – tend to give Macau a wide berth during the new year period to avoid the hordes of riff-raff.
Regardless, the casinos are likely celebrating the double-digit visitor gains, particularly those casinos with a greater focus on mass market gamblers like Sands China and MGM Resorts’ new MGM Cotai property, which opened just days before the holiday period began.
Unfortunately, MGM Cotai’s rush to launch ahead of the New Year holiday meant that only 500 of the property’s expected 1,390 hotel rooms were ready to accept guests, which will obviously limit the property’s revenue-generating potential.
Morgan Stanley analysts issued a note Tuesday suggesting MGM Cotai was their “top pick” to benefit from the thriving mass market, although the analysts warned that “near term volatility and slow ramp are expected.”