Macau’s VIP gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the first quarter of 2021 reached nearly MOP9.13 billion (US$1.14 billion), up 19.7 percent sequentially, according to data released on Friday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. The figure was still down 38.3 percent from the prior-year period.
VIP baccarat, which in 2019 accounted for as much as half of all Macau GGR, accounted for 38.6 percent of the city’s GGR in the three months to March 31. That was an increase from the 34.9-percent share it had in the fourth quarter of 2020.
A number of industry observers has told GGRAsia that the VIP segment has been placed recently under commercial pressure, due to a combination of regulatory and pandemic-related factors.
Mass-market games – including slot machines – provided 61.4 percent of all Macau’s casino GGR in the first three months of 2021, at MOP14.51 billion. The figure was up 2.1 percent from the previous quarter, but down 7.4 percent from a year earlier.
Mass-market baccarat alone made up 51.0 percent of all GGR for the first quarter of 2021, or MOP12.06 billion in money terms. Slot machines accounted for MOP1.15 billion, or 4.9 percent, of GGR in the period.
JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said in a recent note that VIP revenue in the Macau market was “bad” in the first quarter of 2021, “hovering at circa 20 percent of pre- Covid-19 levels.” The mass segment had “fared better” in the three months to March 31, at 39 percent of pre- Covid-19 levels, estimated the institution.
Friday’s official data showed that VIP GGR stood at about 24.5 percent of first-quarter 2019 levels, when such revenue reached nearly MOP37.21 billion. Revenue in the mass-market segment was 37.3 percent of the levels seen in the opening quarter of 2019.
There were 550 extra slot machines in the market at the end of the first quarter, compared to the prior three months. The tally as of March 31 was 9,404, versus 8,854 in the prior quarter. The number of live gaming tables stood at 6,092 at the end of the fourth quarter, up by 12 from the previous three months.
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“We see that basically the ‘golden’ periods [for Macau's casino industry] are all concentrated in the second half of this year”
Lei Wai Nong
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance