Macau gaming revenue grew 17% in August, beating forecasts

Casinos in Macau. (Bloomberg pic)

TOKYO: Macau’s gaming revenue topped analyst forecasts for the first time in four months, a result that may ease investor concerns about a slowdown in gambling by high rollers.

Receipts in the world’s largest gaming hub climbed 17% in August from a year earlier to 26.6 billion patacas (US$3.3 billion), above estimates for a median 15% expansion, according to data from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Saturday. Analysts’ forecasts ranged from an increase of 12% to 18%.

Casino revenue in the enclave has shown 25 straight months of growth. Yet a string of shortfalls has weighed on the industry as concern grows over China’s economic slowdown and a deepening trade war. Wynn Resorts Ltd. in early August reported steep declines in second-quarter results for its first casino in Macau, driven by a drop in betting by high-rollers.

While the Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino stocks tumbled as much as 31% from a four-year high in May, with MGM China Holdings Ltd. and Wynn Macau Ltd. leading declines, shares have been rebounding in recent weeks on speculation that the selloff was overdone.

Gross gaming revenue in Macau should grow by about 13% in the third quarter, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Margaret Huang and Caitlin Noselli. While gains in the mass-market sector will continue to outpace VIP, the high-rollers segment still accounts for most of Macau’s casino revenue, they said. Part of the weakness in VIP revenue is due to tough comparisons with year-earlier figures.