Macau rakes in 20pc gain in July gaming revenues

World's largest casino hub rakes in 20pc more year on year despite cutbacks by high-rollers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 August, 2013, 3:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 August, 2013, 3:18am

Gambling revenue in Macau rose 20 per cent last month from a year earlier, bolstered by growth in the mass gaming market, despite the slowdown in the mainland's economic expansion.

Casinos in the world's largest gaming destination took in 29.5 billion patacas in July, the third-strongest month this year, data released yesterday by Macau's government showed.

The economy's deceleration has raised concerns about Macau's pillar industry, as high-rollers, those gamblers who often place bets of one million yuan (HK$1.26 million), spend less.

However, the industry has managed to grow thanks to an influx of middle-class mainlanders.

The proportion of mass-market customers increased to 33 per cent in this year's second quarter from 29 per cent in last year's first quarter, Haitong International Research said in a note.

Mass-market customers are finding it more difficult to find a baccarat table that offers a starting bet of 200 patacas. Many casinos have increased minimum table bets to 300 patacas or more.

Some analysts believe the July growth of 20 per cent is solid.

"It's driven by an increasing penetration of mainland visitors to Macau, which is still at a very low rate [compared with the mainland population]," said Barclays Capital analyst Phoebe Tse.

"The growth is also boosted by new infrastructure in the area. For example, the rail link between Guangzhou and Zhuhai, which was fully opened early this year, brings in visitors more easily from the mainland," Tse said.

In June, the number of visitors to Macau rose 10.4 per cent year on year to more than 2.3 million, according to official data. About 63 per cent of the visitors - 1.45 million - were from the mainland, an increase of 20 per cent year on year. Nearly 630,000 people were from Guangdong province alone.

The Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge, which is under construction, is expected to boost the number of mainland tourists to Macau significantly once it is finished in 2016.

Grant Govertsen of Union Gaming Research, forecast year-on-year growth in gaming revenue of 18 per cent this month, to 30.8 billion patacas.

"We base our forecast on the sequential July into August trends over the past four years, which have seen an average of 4.4 per cent month-to-month growth," Govertsen said.