World Cup betting dented Macau’s gaming intake last month, with gross revenue dropping 3.7 per cent year on year to 27 billion patacas, the first decline in five years, according to Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau.
The tournament’s impact is expected to extend into July.
The drop is in line with analysts’ expectations of a decline of 3 to 5 per cent. The last time gross gaming revenue fell was in June 2009, when it dropped 17.1 per cent year on year following the global financial crisis. The World Cup finals, which end on July 13, have historically diverted gamblers’ attention to soccer.
Average table revenue dropped to HK$775 million per day from June 16 to 22 after the World Cup kicked off, compared to revenue of HK$801 million per day the week before, representing a decline of 3.3 per cent.
“June month-to-date average daily table revenue at HK$845 million remained much lower than the HK$973 million a day seen in May, which we believe is due to the continued weakening VIP volume trends with potentially some impact from the World Cup,” Barclays gaming analyst Phoebe Tse said.
Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Karen Tang said: “We feel that the market is, by now, well aware that the World Cup, which ends July 13, is having a severe short-term impact on Macau.”
A Hong Kong-based investigator said sports betting is a lucrative activity, with much of it taking place illegally.
“Hong Kong provides a huge market for overseas-based [gaming] websites – mostly operated out of the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia – and increasingly we see major players, some of whom are involved in the Macau casino junket business, getting involved because they see massive potential to make money with relatively little outlay,” the investigator said.
Macau gaming stocks are contending with a raft of developments that are threatening to slow casino revenues. The disappearance in April of a junket operator who owed US$1.3 billion was followed by a clampdown on the usage of UnionPay bank cards and a shortening of the transit visa available to mainlanders from seven to five days. Meanwhile an upcoming smoking ban will require all casinos’ mass gaming floors to be smoke- free from October 6.
“Concerns related to UnionPay, transit visas, and the smoking ban may not be big individually, but in aggregate, the industry impact is negative,” Morgan Stanley’s head of gaming research Praveen Choudhary said.
” If the premium mass area is included in the 100 per cent smoking ban, this could push customers to VIP and thus reduce overall casino margins.”
Macau’s casino gaming revenue for the year to June was 193.09 billion patacas, up 12.6 per cent on the same period last year.
Macau casinos feel heat of World Cup fever as gamblers bet elsewhere