Macau casinos extend winning streak as junkets lure gamblers

  • Business
  • Saturday, 02 Dec 2017

HONG KONG: Macau’s casino revenue in November grew at the fastest pace in four months as junket operators attracted high-stakes players to the world’s largest gambling hub.

Gross gaming receipts rose 23% to 23 billion patacas (US$2.9bil) last month, according to data released yesterday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. That exceeds the median estimate for a 19% increase in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts.

The casino industry in the former Portuguese colony is being spurred by wealthy Chinese returning to the gaming centre after China’s anti-corruption drive triggered a slowdown.

Revenue from high-stakes gamblers has grown more than 28% in the first nine months of this year, outpacing the mass-market segment of casual gamblers.

Macau’s biggest junket operator, Suncity Group, reported it’s seeing a surge in VIP business, aided by a luxury rewards programme.

Revenue climbed 20% in the 11 months through November. The recovery in Macau will be supported through 2018 by the resurgence of both high rollers and the slightly lower tier of big-spending casual gamblers from China, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Margaret Huang and Carmen Lee wrote in a note this week.

Casinos are opening new resorts or renovating properties to include high-end amenities to woo high-spending gamblers directly or through junket operators, they said.

Las Vegas Sands Corp is set to spend US$1.1bil to renovate a Cotai resort into a London-themed attraction while MGM China’s Cotai resort will begin VIP operations in the first half of next year and has secured five junket operators to bring high-stakes players.

Still, as the casino business is booming, Macau regulators are strengthening their oversight of the almost US$30bil industry.

The local government said it’s currently reviewing its gaming laws to ensure casinos are following through on non-gaming commitments. Beginning in January, it also plans to tighten standards for licensing junket operators. — Bloomberg

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