Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) from VIP baccarat rose 21.0 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. The rate of VIP growth was slightly faster than the 19.9 percent recorded for GGR in the mass segment – inclusive of slot machine revenue – showed data issued on Monday by the city’s regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, a body also known as DICJ.
Gaming bureau data showed that first-quarter aggregate VIP GGR was nearly MOP42.96 billion (US$5.31 billion), compared to MOP35.49 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.
In the breakdown of first-quarter 2018, VIP baccarat revenue as a proportion of all casino GGR in the period stood at 56.1 percent. In the preceding, fourth quarter it had been 56.2 percent.
First quarter mass-market GGR including slots was MOP33.55 billion, compared to MOP27.99 billion a year earlier.
Mass-market baccarat alone grew by 23.5 percent year-on-year, to MOP25.00 billion, compared to MOP20.24 billion in the first quarter 2017. Mass-market baccarat had a 32.7 percent market share of Macau GGR in the first three months this year.
A number of investment analysts have previously flagged to investors the benefit of growth in the typically higher-margin mass-market business.
The Macau market’s accumulated first-quarter year-on-year growth was 20.5 percent, to a tally of MOP76.51 billion, as revealed in data issued on April 1.
According to the official data released on Monday, GGR from slot machines was nearly MOP3.82 billion in the first quarter, up 17.9 percent on the MOP3.24 billion in the first quarter of 2017. Slot machines’ share of Macau first-quarter revenue was just under 5 percent.
First-quarter revenue from live multi game products – those featuring table-style games with live dealers but electronic betting and electronic bet settlement – was MOP624 million, an increase of 7.6 percent on the MOP580 million recorded in the prior-year period.
The number of live-dealer gaming tables in the Macau market stood at 6,586 in the first quarter this year, up 2.6 percent from the 6,419 registered at the end of the preceding, fourth quarter.
The number of slot machines in the Macau market stood at 17,205 in the first quarter, up 10.1 percent from the 15,622 recorded as of December 31.
Grant Govertsen, analyst at brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd, said in a Monday note that the official data on the market split between mass and VIP was “good news” on two fronts.
“VIP growth remains strong yet not sky-high, and therefore is more sustainable from a business perspective while also being more politically acceptable, and the profit engine that is the mass market segment is more robust than many had given it credit for when the year began and remains robust as summer approaches,” wrote Mr Govertsen.
He added: “Based on operator-reported fourth quarter 2017 data, we estimate that 62 percent of total GGR was generated on Cotai (or Taipa), with only 38 percent on the peninsula … We expect the delta between Cotai and peninsula to widen slightly this year even as we expect GGR on the peninsula to experience high single digit growth.”
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau