The Macau government has sought to transform the image of Macau from being the biggest gambling hub in the world to one that was more family friendly in a bid to attract more tourists whose interests were not just restricted to gambling at the casinos. The six major casino operators in Macau were given direct orders to diversify their portfolio and concentrate on developing their non-gaming facilities.
Wynn Resorts and the Las Vegas Sands Corp invested heavily into non-gaming entertainment facilities for their new Cotai casino resorts. The $4.3 billion Wynn Palace opened in August and the $2.7 billion Parisian Macao opened in September this year and gaming analysts from Buckingham Research Group Inc believe that the opening of these two new casinos have been directly responsible for an increase in tourism. In a statement reported on GGRAsia, analyst Christopher Jones from Buckingham Research said, “We would attribute the increase in visitation in September to increases in supply from Wynn Palace and Sands’ Parisian.”
Macau’s Statistics and Census Service published data on October 24 showing that Macau recorded a total of 2.4 million visitors in September 2016, which was an increase of 0.5 percent when compared to September 2015. There were a total of 1.6 million visitors from Mainland China in September 2016 which was an increase of 0.3 percent when compared to the same period in 2015. The total number of visitors to Macau during the first nine months of this year was around 22.9 million, which was an increase of around 0.1 percent compared to the same period last year.
Macau’s casinos have always attracted a large number of tourists but investment analysts state that visitors to the casino does not always correlate to an increase in gaming activity at the casino as Macau’s gross gaming revenues have mostly been linked to the VIP gaming segment. The observations by investment analysts have also been backed by survey results published by the IFT Tourism Research Centre (ITRC) who stated that only 26 percent of visitors to Macau’s casinos admit to gambling at the casino.
However, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the gaming regulator in Macau released data on October 1 showing that the tourist increase in September did have an impact on gross gaming revenues (GGR). Macau’s overall GGR went up to $2.30 billion in September 2016 which was a 7.4 percent increase when compared to September 2015. Macau’s casino industry experienced 26 consecutive months of decline in GGR due to the anti-corruption crackdown but it now appears that the market is stabilizing as the GGR in August 2016 went up to 1.1 percent and September was the second month of increase.