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Macau Surpasses Las Vegas as Top Casino Hub Globally
Macau, the renowned Chinese gaming enclave, is making a triumphant return to its former glory. In the first half of the current year, the combined gross gaming revenue (GGR) from Macau’s six concessionaires surpassed $10 billion. In stark contrast, Nevada’s casino operators managed to notch only $7.5 billion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. Before the outbreak of the global pandemic, Macau had firmly held the position of the world’s most lucrative casino hub, fueled by its proximity to China and the population’s deep-seated enthusiasm for gambling. However, this status was relinquished as the pandemic wreaked havoc across the globe.
A Challenging Path to Recovery
Macau’s gaming establishments were forced to close their doors for a span of 15 days in 2020, with the hopes of a swift return to normalcy. It was only in January 2023 that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) finally eased the country’s coronavirus protocols, allowing for a gradual resumption of activities. These stringent measures included a myriad of restrictions that significantly hampered travel to Macau, thereby thwarting its gaming industry.
Regaining the Crown from Las Vegas
The impact of these protocols and restrictions was substantial, causing the special administrative region (SAR) to relinquish its coveted title of the “world’s premier casino center” to Las Vegas. Throughout the majority of the pandemic, Nevada’s gross gaming revenue (GGR), led by the iconic Sin City, outpaced Macau’s.
Nonetheless, Macau’s resurgence in 2023 has the potential to surpass expectations. Industry analysts predict that the SAR’s GGR for this year won’t merely reach 100% of 2019 levels, but will potentially exceed them, indicating ample room for growth and development.
A Shifting Landscape and the Rise of Macau
As the journey towards pre-pandemic revenue levels gains momentum, it is becoming increasingly likely that Macau’s GGR will outpace that of Las Vegas. Remarkably, this resurgence is being driven without substantial contributions from VIP players, highlighting the resilience of the mass and premium-mass player segments.
While the number of high rollers may not match those of Macau’s prime years a decade ago, even average gamblers are now placing substantial bets. Reports suggest that even lower-end players are wagering upwards of $1,500 per hour at the tables, while higher-end mass-market players are losing over $2,500 per day on average. Citi’s recent survey of Macau’s table activity reveals a 5% increase in average table game wagers by premium mass players this month.
The Return of Whales to Macau
Although Las Vegas still attracts its fair share of high rollers, the numbers appear to be favoring China in this regard. This trend bodes well for Macau operators, especially considering the tentative return of whales to the region.
The Citi survey points to a modest uptick in visits from VIPs, characterized by their substantial average wagers of nearly $13,000 per hand. The bank highlights that data gathered before COVID-19 showcased similar month-on-month declines in wager per player during 2018 and 2019, attributing this trend to the influx of more casual players during the visitor-heavy month of August.