Macau could see a positive trend in gross gaming revenue (GGR) this year despite sustained weakness in the VIP segment, said several senior executives of the city’s casino operators on Friday, on the sidelines of a public event.
Ambrose So Shu Fai, vice-chairman and chief executive of SJM Holdings Ltd, said he was “confident” on the prospect of Macau’s gaming revenue for 2020. His view was shared by Sands China Ltd’s president and chief operating officer Wilfred Wong Ying Wai and MGM China Holdings Ltd’s chief executive Grant Bowie.
Mr So said some positive factors for the Macau market included last week’s signing of the first-phase trade deal between the United States and China, which could help reduce some tit-for-tat tariffs imposed previously between the two nations. Another positive was China’s economic growth in 2019, which stood at 6.1 percent, according to official data.
“All these are very positive factors [for Macau],” Mr So told reporters, adding that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge and other “developments” linked to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area were also supportive of the city’s casino industry.
Mr So was quoted by local Chinese-language newsapaper Macao Daily News as saying that “more than 60 percent” of his firm’s gaming revenue last year was from mass play. The SJM Holdings CEO said additionally that he believed growth would continue for the mass-market segment this year, but he was less optimistic regarding the VIP sector.
Macau’s accumulated casino GGR for full-year 2019 declined by 3.4 percent year-on-year, to nearly MOP292.46 billion (US$36.5 billion), according to official data.
The annual decline in 2019 was related to a contraction in GGR generated by VIP play, down 18.6 percent year-on-year, while Macau’s mass gaming revenue rose by 15.0 percent. VIP revenue accounted for 46.2 percent of the overall casino GGR market in 2019, compared to 54.8 percent in full-year 2018.
On Friday, Sands China’s Mr Wong said he expected his firm’s mass gaming business to “thrive” this year. The firm would develop more “tourism products” to cater to its mass-market patrons, said the Sands China COO, as quoted by the Macao Daily News. The executive however believed that the city’s VIP gaming segment would continue to show some weakness this year, albeit with a “narrower” decline compared to that of 2019.
Speaking to reporters at the same occasion, MGM China’s CEO also shared a positive outlook on the city’s gaming revenue for this year.
“I don’t think it is as easy as the past; but I’m still very positive that the future is going to be very bright. And I think what we need to do is … look for slow and steady increases rather than very rapid increases,” Mr Bowie stated.
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Macau’s total VIP gross gaming revenue in the first quarter of 2021