Macau’s Critical Mass

The deeper Macau’s casino market penetrates into China the more its mass market grows. That was the story of the first quarter’s revenue boom, which was paced by a 39 percent growth on the mass said versus a 12.5 percent increase in VIP.

The growth of mass-market gaming revenue in Macau more than tripled the pace of the VIP market in the first quarter.

Mass gaming grew 39 percent year on year versus a 12.5 percent increase in VIP, according to official data.

The casinos’ public floors raked in 32.38 billion patacas (US$4.05 billion) in the first three months of the year, accounting for about 31.7 percent of the 102.2 billion patacas the market generated in total gaming revenue, an increase of 19.8 percent over the first quarter of 2013.

“We believe that the visitor mix in Macau is improving with an increasing share of higher-spending, longer-staying northern Chinese,” wrote Wells Fargo’s Cameron McKnight in a note to investors. “We view this positively as it suggests improved transportation infrastructure is finally allowing greater numbers of Chinese from the outer provinces to visit Macau.”

Official data show the number of mainland Chinese visitors rose by 14.1 percent year on year in January and February to more than 3.4 million.

Visitors from neighboring Guangdong province, the city’s largest mainland tourist source, grew by 8.4 percent, while the Beijing and Shanghai markets expanded by 16.3 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. Guangdong accounted for 44 percent of mainland visitors in this year’s January-February period, compared with 47 percent a year earlier.

Wells Fargo said it expects the mass market will continue on its robust pace, growing at least 29 percent this year. The firm forecasts VIP will grow 7 percent.