Casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau rose by 17.8 percent year-on-year in February, to MOP22.99 billion (US$2.88 billion), according to data from the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, released on Wednesday.
February’s monthly GGR tally was the highest for the Macau market since January 2015, when the aggregate for such revenue was MOP23.84 billion.
Several investment analysts had estimated in Monday notes – citing unofficial industry returns – that February’s GGR improvement would be in the range of 5 percent to 9 percent judged year-on-year.
The official publication on Wednesday of the February number meant the Macau market’s GGR tally for the first two months of 2017 stood at MOP42.25 billion, a year-on-year expansion of 10.6 percent.
February’s increase represents the seventh consecutive month of growth “and follows strongly on what was a disappointing January,” said brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd in a note on Wednesday.
“We believe a large portion of the upside surprise in February (especially the latter part of the month) was strong VIP (strong volumes, somewhat helped by high hold),” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Zhen Gong and Yang Xie in a Wednesday note.
They added: “VIP growth may have likely shown mid-20s-percent growth year-on-year. The last week of the month was helped by several junket marketing events, including SunCity’s anniversary party, which brought in significant increase in VIP players and agents.”
Macau’s Chief Executive, Fernando Chui Sai On, forecast in November that the city’s 2017 casino GGR would total MOP200 billion. That is the same number the government gave as an estimate for 2016 casino GGR. The latter forecast undershot by 12 percent, as the year’s final tally amounted to MOP223.21 billion.
(Updated at 3.17pm, March 1)
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"VIP growth [in Macau] is roaring back on the heels of last year’s economic stimulus – but we think this could stall once the effect of the stimulus and the Chinese housing bubble wears off – as it did in 2013-14"
Cameron McKnight and Robert Shore
Analysts at Wells Fargo Securities