Macau casinos get off to a sluggish start in 2019

Macau casinos get off to a sluggish start in 2019

Though just barely into the month, the outlook for Macau’s casinos isn’t looking too good for January. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) has been suppressed across the first week of the new year, leading industry analysts to make stark predictions for the rest of the month. Both Sanford C. Bernstein and Nomura expect the growth rate for January to end in the red.

Macau casinos get off to a sluggish start in 2019Yesterday, Bernstein asserted in a note that the GGR for January could be between 2% lower and 2% higher than what it was a year ago. Macau’s casinos, according to the brokerage, saw GGR of only $105.27 million per day in the first week of January, which is around 12% higher than what it was for the same period last year; however, analysts with the firm indicate that the overall GGR should be viewed with “a bit of scepticism as weekly channel checks have proven to be less than accurate” and that the actual numbers are “volatile.”

The analysts, Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu, further noted that persistent weakness in China’s economy could lead to smaller amounts being wagered in Macau. They asserted, “As we have been highlighting, the macro environment in China is creating headwinds risk for GGR growth in Macau in 2019.”

Nomura’s Instinet stockbroking division expects January’s GGR to be the same as it was a year ago, or as much as 5% higher. Instinet said in its note from yesterday, “We believe GGR-per-day benefited from a slightly higher weekend-to-weekday proportion, which we estimate positively impacted daily GGR by about $2.10 million assuming weekend demand at about 1.5 times that of a typical weekday.”

The stock brokerage’s analysts, Harry Curtis, Daniel Adam and Brian Dobson, further predicted, “GGR per day typically increases around 6 percent to 7 percent for the combined January and February period versus December, which would translate into a daily GGR range of about $111.46 million to $113.93 million for the combined period this year. However, we expect much better year-on-year performance in February than we do in January.”

If the negative growth predictions are true, it would be the first time since the middle of 2016 that GGR didn’t expand in the gambling mecca. In July 2016, GGR was $2.21 billion, which was a decline of 4.5% over the previous July’s $2.3 billion.