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Mass Market Fuels Macau Casino Revenue to Best Monthly Mark Since January 2020

China’s mass market in May propelled the Macau casino industry to its highest monthly revenue haul since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020.

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reports that the city’s six gaming operators — Sands, Galaxy, Wynn, MGM, Melco, and SJM — combined to win MOP20.188 billion (US$2.51 billion) in May. The month marked a nearly 9% increase from April and was almost 30% higher than May 2023.

Through five months in 2024, total gross gaming revenue (GGR) stands at $11.19 billion, 48% better than in 2023, but 24% lower than what the six casino firms collected during the same period in pre-COVID 2019.

Despite the market remaining suppressed from 2019, Macau’s gaming industry, its most critical economic component, continues to rebound amid a significantly altered regulatory environment.

Throughout the pandemic, the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government radically overhauled governing conditions regarding how the six casino companies do business. At the direction of Beijing, Macau officials told VIP junket groups that had kept high-roller rooms bustling for years that their operations would be more closely supervised.

“China President Xi Jinping believed junket groups allowed mainland millionaires to move some of their cash assets through the tax haven to lessen their financial obligations to the communist regime. The crackdown prompted most junkets to flee for developing gaming markets, including the Philippines and Vietnam, where regulations are more favorable to their travel operations.”

The exodus of junkets has resulted in fewer VIPs in Macau. That forced the six concessionaires to rethink their business strategies and focus more on the mass market.

The pivot to the general public continues to evolve, and analysts say investors should be pleased with how quickly the casino firms have been able to adjust. Analysts at JP Morgan said May represented “a record-high mass GGR” mark for Macau’s gaming licensees.

“The month printed the best GGR in 50-plus months and a record-high mass GGR in the history of Macau — quite impressive, especially given mounting investor concerns on macro/consumption elsewhere in China,” wrote analysts DS Kim, Mufan Shi, and Selina Li.”

The $2.51 billion won last month was the best month since January 2020 when the casinos took $3.1 billion off players. May 2024 was 22% below the $3.22 billion GGR experienced in May 2019.

The six casinos continue to invest in nongaming projects, a condition of their 2022 licensing agreement. The companies must spend about $18 billion before 2032 on nongaming undertakings.

Analysts are forecasting a June pullback in terms of gaming revenue. June is typically a slower month following May’s Labor Day Golden Week holiday and also because of hot weather where daily temperatures average nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

June is described as the seasonally weakest month of the year for Macau gaming revenue. The JP Morgan analysts are expecting GGR to come in around $2.2 billion.

China’s lone casino market continues to make revenue gains despite economic concerns elsewhere. Factory activity on the mainland slowed more than expected in May, which could indicate a further slowing of the world’s second-largest economy.

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