Macau casinos posted stronger than expected gaming revenue growth in April, traditionally the weakest of the year’s first four months.
Figures released Tuesday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) show that the special administrative region’s casino operators generated gaming revenue of MOP25.7b (US$3.2b) in April, a 27.6% improvement over the same month last year.
The strong April result exceeded analysts’ expectations, despite having one fewer Saturday than April 2017. April’s revenue also extends Macau’s monthly revenue growth streak to 21 months, and brings the year-to-date total to MOP102.2b, up 22.2% from the same period in 2017.
Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen said April’s strong performance was the result of solid gains in both the VIP and mass market gaming segments, and April’s average daily revenue of MOP858m was on par with results seen during the most recent Lunar New Year and Golden Week holiday periods. Accordingly, Union Gaming bumped up its Q2 revenue growth forecast by two percentage points to 22%.
Macau’s visitors aren’t just gambling and going home, as the Macau Statistics and Census Service recently reported that Q1’s tourist influx improved 9.2% year-on-year, pushing the average room occupancy rate to 88.8%, 6.3 points higher than Q1 2017. The occupancy gain is all the more impressive given that Macau’s number of available guest rooms rose 6.3% year-on-year to 39k.
Not all is sunny and warm in Macau, as roughly 400 of the SAR’s casino workforce used the annual May Day holiday to stage a protest for higher pay and better treatment. New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association president Cloee Chao claimed that gaming employees’ salaries had grown only 2.5% in the past two years while casino operators’ revenue had grown 20%.
Chao further claimed that the gaming workers’ salaries weren’t keeping pace with inflation. Chao’s group is pushing for a 6% salary bump, a guarantee of the same salaries for the same positions across the industry, and two months’ bonus salary per year. The group also wants Macau to lift the exemption that casino VIP rooms currently enjoy from the SAR’s smoking ban.