Business in the mass-market gambling segment in Macau has improved slightly in the second quarter this year but is not enough to offset the slump on the VIP side, said Ambrose So Shu Fai (pictured), chief executive of casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd.
“The VIP business [at SJM Holdings casinos] has decreased, more or less according to the industry – down about 30 percent to 40 percent,” Mr So said on Thursday.
But the fact that not only is mass market play not making up for the absent VIPs, but also that gambling spend per mass-market Macau player is actually falling, was flagged by Karen Tang of Deutsche Bank AG in a note on May 12.
SJM Holdings’ Mr So appeared to confirm that picture in his comments on Thursday.
“The VIP market in Macau represents about 70 percent of the total [gross gaming] revenue,” stated the executive, adding that even if the mass segment performs better it “does not fill in the gap left by the VIP market”.
First quarter mass-market gross gaming revenue (GGR) in Macau, including slots and electronic table games, fell by 27.0 percent year-on-year to approximately MOP27.11 billion (US$3.40 billion), official data showed. Revenue in the VIP segment fell 42.1 percent year-on-year in the same period.
During the first quarter of 2015, SJM Holdings reported VIP gaming revenue of HKD7.92 billion (US$1.02 billion), down by 45.4 percent from a year earlier. The casino operator posted a profit of HKD1.0 billion for the period.
Mr So on Thursday said more time is needed to better understand the current dynamics of the Macau market.
He added: “I think we should wait for a little bit to see what’s happening in the second half [of 2015], to see if the decrease is narrower than before. By then, we will be able to reach a conclusion on whether we have hit the bottom or not.”
The SJM Holdings executive was speaking on the sidelines of the launch ceremony for a new mass-market focused tourism attraction at Ponte 16 – a property with an SJM-licensed casino on Macau peninsula. Ponte 16 is a joint venture between Success Universe Group and a unit of SJM Holdings.
All Macau’s casino operators are currently planning or about to open new non-gaming attractions both to attract more mass market visitors and to comply with the local government’s drive to diversify the city’s economy from gambling.
The Ponte 16 attraction – an 18,000 square feet (1,600 sq. metre) museum dubbed Pier 16 Macau 3D World – is described as the “first large-scale 3D Museum in Macau”. It offers visitors a chance to pose for photos with approximately 100 3D images and paintings.
“Pier 16 Macau 3D World does not only represent a milestone on the development of Ponte 16, it is also a hot new feature in Macau’s non-gaming entertainment,” said Sonny Yeung Hoi Sing, chief executive of Ponte 16.
Mr So added: “We hope that the brand new interactive 3D experience brought by Pier 16 3D World will attract more visitors to the Inner Harbour, and help enhance the diversified development of Macau’s tourism business.”
Ponte 16 already has another mass-market attraction called the MJ Gallery, displaying props and costumes once used by the singer Michael Jackson. The attraction has been “temporary closed” since December 15, according to Success Universe website.
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Total spending – excluding gaming expenses – of visitors to Macau in the second quarter of 2017