The six licensed casino operators in Macau have reportedly revealed that VIP games accounted for only 44% of their aggregated gross gaming revenues during the third quarter while the mass-market segment grew by 3.9% year-on-year.

According to a report from GGRAsia citing a note from Union Gaming Securities Asia Limited, the third-quarter VIP figure represented the “lowest mix ever” relative to the mass-market while official figures from the Gaming Inspection And Coordination Bureau regulator showed that takings from high-roller baccarat now account for 52% of all gross gaming revenues.

Union Gaming Securities Asia reported that the mass-market segment, which includes slots and live multi-game electronic tables, likely benefited from the opening of the $4.1 billion Wynn Palace Cotai from Wynn Resorts Limited, which premiered in August offering 1,145 slots, while Las Vegas Sands Corporation inaugurated 2,500 such machines at its $2.5 billion The Parisian Macao in September.

The brokerage declared that mass-market gambling had likely expanded by 11% year-on-year when operators’ reported numbers were taken into account although it criticized the practice of “table reclassification”, which often sees mass-market areas reclassified as VIP zones.

“The [Gaming Inspection And Coordination Bureau] quarterly numbers no longer paint an accurate picture due to table reclassifications,” read a statement from Union Gaming Securities Asia Limited analyst Grant Govertsen. “Data reported by Macau’s “big six” operators show that mass market table [revenues] actually grew 11% year-on-year in third quarter of 2016. This is important as it shows mass turning the corner. Within the 11% mass table growth during the third quarter 2016, we believe premium mass is also seeing growth. Further, we think VIP could be on the cusp of returning to growth although our estimates remain more cautious on VIP for a variety of reasons.”

GGRAsia explained that “table reclassification”, which is carried out at operator level and often has little relation to official Gaming Inspection And Coordination Bureau policies, frequently ends in an overweight number when tallying VIP gross gaming revenues at the expense of mass-market. Smoking is commonly permitted in VIP areas while no such luxury is afforded to mass-market zones and the definition of a high-roller section is not defined by the games being played but by whether the area is physically separated from the main casino floor.

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