Macau casino revenue through the first half of December is dragging behind what was already rather weak projections from gaming industry analysts.
JP Morgan reports that through 15 days in December, gross gaming revenue (GGR) came in at an estimated MOP10.8 billion ($1.35 billion). That equates to $90 million a day, which is substantially lower than the dismal December estimate for the enclave.
December is set to be the weakest month of the year,” JP Morgan analysts DS Kim, Derek Choi, and Jeremy An said in a note.
The current $90 million per day GGR is on pace for a 16 percent monthly decline compared to December 2018. JP Morgan, Bloomberg, and other financial institutions were calling for a roughly 10 percent year-over-year loss.
“We now expect December GGR to drop 14 percent to 16 percent year-on-year to about MOP$22.3 billion to MOP$22.8 billion ($2.78 billion to $2.84 billion), which would be the weakest … of 2019 on both growth and absolute terms,” the JP Morgan analysts concluded.
2019 will mark an end to Macau’s two-year casino rebound.
GGR fell from $45 billion in 2013 to $27.9 billion in 2016 as a result of China cracking down on VIP junkets. In response, casinos pivoted away from the high roller to the general public, and gaming win rebounded over the last two years – $33.2 billion in 2017 and $37.8 billion last year.
Heading into 2019, there was plenty of optimism riding the two-year GGR increase. But it’s been a difficult year marred by a slowing in economic growth in the People’s Republic, ongoing trade tensions between China and the United States, and social unrest in nearby Hong Kong.
Casino win is down 2.4 percent through November, total GGR standing at $33.6 billion.
The final half of December isn’t expected to be a robust time for casinos, as the Special Administrative Region celebrates its 20th anniversary return from Portugal to Chinese control. Diplomats, federal and regional officials, as well as mainland citizens are expected to fill up casino hotel rooms – demographics that aren’t likely to gamble at the same rates as typical VIP and mass market visitors.
2020 Bulls, Bears
Though 2019 will mark Macau’s fourth down year in the last six, one gaming industry observer is expressing a bit of confidence regarding the enclave’s outlook for next year.
After China and the US agreed to its Phase 1 of their trade deal last week, Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli said he’s predicting GGR “to be back-half weighted in 2020, with aggregate GGR growing 3.6 percent year-on-year.”
Morgan Stanley has called for a two percent GGR increase next year.
However, Fitch Ratings said it simply doesn’t see substantial growth in the region’s gaming industry next year. It revised its economic forecast on Macau from “negative” to “stable,” but added, “Macau’s growth outlook could be indirectly affected by further escalation in US-China tensions insofar as this results in downward revisions to our projections.”