Macau’s accumulated casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) for full-year 2018 grew by 14.0 percent compared to the tally for 2017, according to data released on Tuesday by the city’s regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
The city’s accumulated GGR for the 12 months of 2018 stood at nearly MOP302.85 billion (US$37.57 billion), compared to MOP265.74 billion in the previous year.
It marked the second straight year of GGR growth, following an increase of 19.1 percent in full-year 2017. Before that, the Macau market had experienced three consecutive years of annual decline. In 2016, GGR fell 3.3 percent; in 2015, it slipped 34.3 percent; and in 2014, GGR declined by 2.6 percent year-on-year.
Macau’s GGR for December 2018 rose by 16.6 percent year-on-year, to approximately MOP26.47 billion. It was the third best monthly tally in 2018, just trailing the figures for October and August, at MOP27.33 billion and MOP26.56 billion, respectively.
Several brokerages covering the Macau casino sector had issued notes anticipating December GGR growth of between 10 percent and 15 percent year-on-year. Investment analysts had said volume in the VIP market last month was trending slightly higher than in November, and that mass-market GGR was also a touch greater.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in Tuesday commentary on Macau’s December gaming performance: “Macau December GGR came in stronger than expected at MOP26.5 billion, +16.6 percent year-on-year, above Bloomberg consensus of +11 percent and above our estimate of +12 percent to 15 percent.”
Analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu added: “Both VIP and mass [in December] benefitted from events held during the month, including several days of Jay Chou’s ‘The Invincible Concert Tour’ held at the Venetian Macao.”
The Sanford Bernstein team said GGR in January 2019 could fall by about 2 percent or grow by 2 percent in year-on-year terms.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd had said in a recent note it expected a “slow start” to 2019.
“As we look into first quarter 2019, and contemplate the timing of Chinese New Year, we would not be surprised if January was flattish and February was up in the mid/high single digits,” wrote Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen in a Tuesday memo. The Chinese New Year in 2019 falls on February 5.
He added: “For the whole of the first quarter 2019 we are forecasting GGR +4 percent, followed by mid-single digits for the balance of the year. We are maintaining our full-year 2019 growth expectations in the mid-single digits, or broadly speaking, in line with GDP.”
(Updated at 8.39am, Jan 2)
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