Industry unofficial returns for Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the first four days of February suggest the average daily rate was approximately 30 percent down on that registered in the first five days of February last year, said a Monday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
“The first few days of February should not be taken as guidance for the month,” stated analysts from the institution.
“Further, GGR for January and February and comparisons to the prior year should be taken together in light of calendar impact due to Chinese New Year,” they added.
“Assuming a GGR average daily rate of MOP960 million [US$122.9 million] to MOP990 million for the remaining days of the month, we estimate February GGR to a range of MOP26.6 billion to MOP 27.3 billion, an estimated year-on-year increase in February of +16 percent to +19 percent,” wrote analysts Vitaly Umansky, Zhen Gong and Cathy Huang
The Sanford Bernstein team noted that the February growth rate might be moderated by a slowdown in business typically experienced in the Macau casino trade prior to Chinese New Year.
The opening days of February last year coincided with the period immediately after Chinese New Year 2017, which fell in late January. Chinese New Year this time will fall only on February 16.
“The magnitude of the pre-Chinese New Year slowdown and the volatility in hold rate may skew these numbers (most likely lower),” said the Sanford Bernstein analysts regarding its first indicators for February GGR performance.
The period immediately after a Chinese New Year tends to benefit from a festive bounce as tourist numbers and betting volume in the city surges.
In 2017, the total number of tourist arrivals to Macau in seven days of the Chinese New Year festivities, from January 27 to February 2 inclusive, rose 9.9 percent. Casino GGR for January 2017 as a whole, rose more modestly, at 3.1 percent year-on-year.
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Vitaly Umansky, Kelsey Zhu and Tianjiao Yu
Analysts at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein