The mass segment is expected to dominate Macau’s gaming market in 2017, predicts Spectrum Gaming Group LLC, a research and consulting firm covering the casino gaming industry.
On Tuesday, Spectrum published a list of what it considers to be the top 10 casino industry trends for 2017. The firm has been compiling the annual list since 2005.
“Macau will again become a growth story as gross gaming revenues [GGR] continue to climb and new integrated resorts open,” said the consulting firm in a release.
Macau’s casino GGR grew year-on-year for the fourth consecutive month in November. According to investment analysts, December is poised to mark the fifth consecutive month of GGR growth since August.
Spectrum additionally said the casino mass segment would lead the Macau market in 2017, while “VIP play will decline to less than 50 percent of GGR for the first time since Macau reverted back to China”.
According to official market data issued by the Macau casino regulator in October, the VIP segment in the third quarter of 2016 represented 52 percent of all GGR generated by casino games.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd however has suggested that VIP casino GGR accounted for only 44 percent of the gambling market in the three months to September 30, based on numbers released for the third-quarter earnings of Macau’s six gaming operators.
Union Gaming said in a note in November that the casino regulator’s quarterly numbers “no longer paint an accurate picture due to table reclassifications”. Analysts have said table reclassification – done at operator level and not necessarily tallying with the gaming bureau’s own system of table classification – tends to lead to an overweight number in official measurements of VIP GGR, and an underweight one for mass-market play.
In its list, Spectrum said that significant expansion opportunities for the casino industry are expected to arise in 2017 “as legislation is crafted in Brazil, India and Japan”.
Japan’s parliament is set to legalise in principle casino gambling on Wednesday (December 14), after an enabling bill passed through an upper house committee on Tuesday evening.
The consulting firm also said it expects casinos to “leverage their under-utilised square footage to create special attractions for millennials, including lounges, entertainment and skill-based gaming options”.
Millennials is a term used to describe people who came to young adulthood around the year 2000. Now in their 20s and early 30s, they typically have more disposable income than did their predecessors.
Spectrum also suggests that lotteries and casinos will both seek new online opportunities in 2017, “sometimes with competing efforts in the same states and countries, creating competitive challenges that legislators and regulators must sort out”.
Diversifying revenue streams, pushing for legalised sports betting, promoting eSports and privatising lotteries also make the list of the top trends for 2017, said the consulting firm.
“Spectrum has a strong track record … of peering into the future, and helping our clients successfully identify opportunities,” said Spectrum managing director Michael Pollock in a statement included in Tuesday’s release. “We trust that this carefully considered list will fill that role in 2017.”
New Jersey-based Spectrum operates in Asia through Bangkok-based Spectrum Oso Asia Ltd. Spectrum Asia also has offices in Japan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
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"Given the opaque nature of the VIP segment (56 percent of gross gaming revenue in first quarter 2017), forecasting Macau GGR with a fair amount of certainty is difficult; therefore, we remain cautious"