Gaming revenues from international players in the Australia and New Zealand casino markets grew by more than 20 percent in the first half of calendar year 2015, said a note on Friday from Christopher Jones, an analyst from Union Gaming Research LLC.
“While first half 2015 gaming revenues were down double digits in Macau, trends in the Australian/New Zealand markets went the other way,” noted Mr Jones.
Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) was down 37 percent year-on-year in the six months to June 30.
Mr Jones stated that when the VIP business of Australia-based operators and New Zealand’s Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd – which has a licence in Adelaide, South Australia, and one in Darwin, in the Northern Territory as well as permits in New Zealand – is aggregated, VIP revenues in the six months to June 30 rose 22 percent from the prior-year period. The VIP casino segments in those countries are said to be dominated by foreign players.
JP Morgan Securities Australia Ltd analysts Matt Ryan and Olivia Bible said in a note on August 13, commenting on the results of Australian casino firm Crown Resorts Ltd for year ending June 30: “Perth VIP turnover was up 92 percent year-on-year in second half [fiscal year] which offset some slowdown at Melbourne which grew by 6 percent after growing by 87 percent in first half 2015.”
Crown Resorts – an investor in the Asian casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – operates casino resorts in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Victoria, and Perth, Western Australia, and is building another in Sydney, New South Wales.
In February, Jimei International Entertainment Group Ltd said it had entered into a deal with Crown Perth (pictured) for its “junket patrons or players to conduct gaming at the Crown Perth Casino”.
Hong Kong-listed Jimei International Entertainment is chaired by one of Macau’s most experienced casino junket executives, Jack Lam Yin Lok. According to local media reports, Mr Lam founded Jimei Group, a longstanding participant in the Macau VIP gaming promotion sector.
Australian casino operators focused on the domestic market are said to have benefited from an upturn in play by Asian customers.
JP Morgan Securities Australia said in a note on August 12 regarding the results of Echo Entertainment Group Ltd: “It is worth noting that VIP revenue at The Star was up 48.4 percent on the prior calendar period and up 162.1 percent in Queensland.”
Echo Entertainment operates The Star casino in Sydney, two casinos in the state of Queensland and recently received from the state government “preferred tenderer” status for a new casino resort in Brisbane, the state capital.
JP Morgan’s Mr Ryan and Ms Bible noted regarding VIP business at The Star: “Management noted that trends in second half 2015 [fiscal year] were the same as in first half 2015. The customer mix was still skewed to Northern Asia and there was a lot of repeat business.”
None of the notes suggest Macau’s decline was directly linked with Australasia’s rise.
Richard Huang and Stella Xing of Japanese brokerage Nomura said in a note on Monday, referring to sectoral earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA): “Australia and Cambodia are the only markets that still managed to deliver positive gaming revenue and EBITDA growth in first half of 2015. Other major gaming jurisdictions like the Las Vegas Strip, [South] Korea and Singapore also saw 1 percent/5 percent/23 percent decline in gaming revenues, respectively, in first half 2015.”
Fresh crackdowns – reported in the mainland China media – on China marketing agent networks said to feed Chinese VIP players to casinos in South Korea were evidence that “Macau’s loss is no one’s gain”, said a note on August 10 from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
China News Service had earlier reported that mainland China’s Ministry of Public Security had started an operation called “Chain Break” – said to be aimed at disrupting foreign casinos’ access to money flows from China and those casinos’ links to individuals that scout for gamblers from China.
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Macau’s January casino gross gaming revenue