Union Gaming Research Macau Ltd recently reported that a large percentage of visitors to Macau are booking their tickets only 48 hours before actually arriving. This short notice period makes it extremely difficult for casino analysts and investors to predict the number of visitors Macau can expect and also upsets the year-on-year gross gaming revenue (GGR) predictions.
Casino analysts usually rely on visitor data to be predict the flow of traffic into casinos, average spending and then predict a margin that each casino can expect to achieve each year. Ever since Beijing imposed its anti-corruption crackdown and announced that it would focus its attention on VIP gamblers from Mainland China, the amount of traffic from Mainland China has significantly declined. Most of these VIP gamblers prefer to be off the radar and are now traveling to neighboring countries to play at their casinos. Macau is now attracting gamblers who are not big spenders but have a tendency to visit often and place small bets. These gamblers prefer to book last minute trips and stay relatively unknown.
In a statement, Union Gaming said “Higher value customers have been replaced with lower, more value-oriented, customers. It is these value-oriented customers who have been priced out of the market for a period of years who are now coming to Macau given a greater availability of hotel rooms (and at lower prices) and given lower table games minimums.”
Earlier Union Gaming predicted that Macau’s GGR would drop by around 5% in 2015 but the firm has now gone back on that initial estimate and stated that current market conditions suggest that the GGR would decline by as much as 12% in 2015 and VIP customers would continue to stay away from Macau.
Due to the drop in VIP and high stake gamblers, Macau’s casinos and resorts have been forced to change and adopt a new strategy. Casinos are now looking to attract more customers and have accepted the fact that their bets would be a lot lower. Most resorts have also reduced their room rates in order to find a new set of clients and increase room occupancy. Macau will continue to promote its casinos business but in doing so will cater its offerings to a family audience rather than a VIP clientele. Union Gaming suggests that the low and mid-value casino clientele who book last minute travel plans to Macau could avoid the watchful eye of Beijing as they are not VIP clientele.