Macau: February gaming revenue hits $2.3 billion, misses projections despite record Lunar New Year visitors

Macau’s gross gaming revenue faced a decline in February compared to the previous month, reaching nearly MOP18.5 billion (US$2.3 billion), despite a bustling Golden Week attracting tourists to the city. The region had recorded MOP19.34 billion ($2.4 billion) in gaming revenue in January, propelled by a surge in mass-market momentum.

Data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau revealed a 79% revenue increase from the previous year, indicating a 73% recovery compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

Industry projections by Sands China’s Wilfred Wong and brokerage JP Morgan for February fell short, with Wong suggesting Macau’s potential to generate up to MOP20 billion ($2.48 billion) and JP Morgan expecting at least MOP19 billion ($2.35 billion), Macau Business reported.

Cumulatively for the first two months of the year, Macau accumulated MOP37.8 billion ($4.7 billion) in gaming revenue.

The cautious spending outlook among tourists in February offset the record number of visitors during the Lunar New Year, thus missing the median analyst estimate for a 92% year-on-year increase, according to a Bloomberg report. The city reported 1.4 million visitor arrivals during the eight-day Lunar New Year break, the highest since at least 2017.

The slowing revenue growth reflects ongoing caution among Chinese consumers, influenced by economic headwinds, falling home prices, and a stock market downturn. Beijing’s crackdown on high-rolling gamblers, who previously contributed significantly to Macau’s gaming revenue, has shifted the industry’s reliance to mass-market tourists, more sensitive to economic uncertainties.

While Macau’s tourism industry is recovering from the pandemic, signs of slowing spending per capita indicate challenges ahead. In the short term, Macau is expected to remain popular with tourists, sustaining solid hotel occupancy rates and elevated room prices in late February and early March, the report said.

Market performance showed a 1.1% decline in the Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino operators, following a 12% rise in February. In comparison, the benchmark Hang Seng Index increased by 6.6%.