Macau: Gaming revenue forecasted to hit $2.2 billion in January, marking 70% rebound to 2019 levels

Macau’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) is anticipated to reach MOP 17.5 billion ($2.2 billion) in January 2024, marking a recovery to 70 percent of the 2019 level, as per a research report by brokerage Citigroup.

Citigroup observed that the GGR for December 2023 amounted to MOP 18.567 billion ($2.3 billion), surpassing both market and broker expectations by approximately 6 percent, with a daily run-rate of about MOP 600 million ($74.61 million), according to a report by Macau Business.

The average daily run-rate in late December experienced an increase to around MOP 683 million ($84.9 million), up from MOP 543 million ($67.52 million) reported in the previous week, signaling a potential continuation of growth in the upcoming period, according to Citigroup analysts.

Morgan Stanley, in a recent note, projected a 28 percent year-on-year increase in Macau’s full-year GGR for 2024, aiming to recover to 80 percent of the pre-pandemic level. The brokerage firm expects Macau’s January GGR to remain relatively steady at MOP 18.8 billion ($2.33 billion), following the normal seasonality pattern, representing a recovery to approximately 75 percent of the 2019 level.

As per data from Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), Macau’s casinos generated MOP 183 billion ($22.75 billion) in GGR in 2023, constituting 62.5 percent of the full-year tally recorded in 2019, showcasing a steady recovery in the gaming sector in the first year following China’s easing of Covid-related restrictions. The industry’s robust performance persisted even as China faced an economic slowdown triggered by a property market crisis.

In December, Macau’s casino industry defied China’s weakened consumer spending trends to report a 433% increase in gaming revenue. At $2.3 billion, GGR in December represented 81.3% of the pre-Covid December 2019 levels and surpassed analyst estimates, Bloomberg reported recently.

While consumer sentiment weakened, Macau’s casinos benefited from a shift in spending patterns, with tourists favoring entertainment and instant gratification activities over luxury purchases. Premium gamblers continued to spend at levels above 2019, and high-end customers visited Macau more frequently despite China’s overall consumption decline.

Operators reported an average minimum bet across Macau in mid-December that was 12% higher than pre-pandemic levels, the report said. Despite economic uncertainties, players appeared less concerned than investors, as noted in a Citigroup Inc. survey.

However, the recovery trajectory is not without challenges. The crackdown on high-rollers and capital outflows in China led to the decline of Macau’s VIP sector, which contributed significantly to the city’s gambling income before the pandemic.