Since January 2015, the number of VIP junkets in Macau has decreased to 141 from 183, according to data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau. No explanation was given for the drop in numbers.

Thirty-five of the city’s gaming promoters were denied license renewals by the Macau gaming regulator earlier in January due to failure to submit important accounting information, according to Asia Gaming Brief. The speculation by advisory firm Union Gaming at the time was that the junkets weren’t necessarily attempting to avoid accountability, but likely slated for closure. According to Union Gaming, more junkets will exit the market in Macau due to increasing currency devaluation relative to HKD, VIP smoking ban prospects, the general softening of the China macro, and better opportunities in other markets. As junket operators struggle to cope with the new policies the Macau government has implemented, many will leave as the focus turns to mass market gamblers rather than VIP gamblers.

According to research notes published by the local media outlet, “Given the trajectory of the VIP story in Macau we would expect the number of licensed junkets to continue to drop over 2016 in conjunction with our forecast for a VIP GGR decline of around 12 percent.” Union Gaming added, “Over the past year several junkets have or are exploring setting up shop in the Philippines – typically in Manila – as they pull some number of resources out of Macau.”

A step in the right direction, earlier this month the Macau Gaming and Entertainment Promoters Association and Paulo Martins Chan, the Director of the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) got together to discuss the issues Macau’s junket operators are facing. The meeting seems to signify that the government of Macau is still open to possibly collaborating with junket operators and salvaging the VIP market.