Macau’s Gaming Industry Sets New Records Post-COVID

Macau, the renowned gaming hub, has witnessed an impressive resurgence in its gaming industry, setting new records for daily average gross gaming revenue (GGR) in the first eight days of October. Brokerage firm Morgan Stanley reports that Macau’s GGR reached an estimated MOP830 million ($103 million), surpassing all previous post-COVID records. This remarkable recovery can be attributed to a surge in visitor numbers during the 7-day Golden Week national holiday that commenced on October 1.

Golden Week Revenue Breakdown

During the initial six days of Golden Week (October 1 to 6), local casinos generated a daily average GGR of over MOP930 million ($115.3 million). However, from October 7 to 8, this rate slightly declined to MOP500 million ($62.03 million). Nevertheless, the overall performance indicated a remarkable 80% recovery in headline GGR compared to the National Day Golden Week in 2019, surpassing the 70% milestone achieved in the third quarter of this year.

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Mass GGR, which is a significant metric for the industry, has impressively rebounded to 110% to 120% of 2019 levels, exceeding the buy-side expectations of a 100% threshold.

Macau’s recent gaming resurgence also saw a substantial surge in high roller activity. A survey conducted by Citigroup in the premium mass market segment revealed a staggering 94% increase in the average wager per player compared to October 2019. Despite a 44% reduction in the number of gamblers, total wagers reached an impressive MOP15.53 million ($1.93 million), only 3% lower than the all-time high recorded in the past six years.

The survey identified a record-high number of 33 high rollers, often referred to as ‘blue whales,’ who are known for their substantial bets of MOP102,993 ($12,779) per hand or more. This figure exceeded the previous record of 27 whales observed in February 2019.

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Notably, the quality of these high rollers has improved significantly, with an average wager of MOP197,091 ($24,454) among the 33 whales observed in October 2023. This represents an increase of MOP34,631 ($4,296) compared to pre-COVID levels.

In recent weeks, stock pull-backs have led to a moderation in buy-side expectations, as noted by J.P. Morgan. The risk/reward ratio for Macau gaming stocks is now tilting favorably, with significant value found in stocks trading at 10-percent free-cash yields and an average EV/EBITDA ratio of 9x (FY24E). These levels are two standard deviations below historical averages, prompting the brokerage to suggest that long-term investors consider strategic investments in the sector.

Macau’s gaming industry is on a remarkable upswing, and the signs of robust recovery are resonating positively with both industry experts and investors.

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