(Bloomberg) -- Macau’s gaming revenue rose less than expected in February as a cautious spending outlook among tourists outweighed the record number of visitors to the world’s biggest gambling hub over Lunar New Year.

Gross gaming revenue increased 79% from a year earlier to 18.5 billion patacas ($2.3 billion), according to data released by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Friday. 

That missed the median analyst estimate for a 92% year-on-year increase, which would have put February’s takings at the highest since the beginning of Covid. Instead, revenue is 27% lower than the pre-pandemic level in 2019. 

Key Insights

  • Revenue was about 4% lower than January’s total despite increased travel demand from mainland China, the city’s largest source of tourists. Macau reported a total of 1.4 million visitor arrivals during the eight-day Lunar New Year break, the highest since at least 2017, when daily data for peak seasons became available.
  • Slowing revenue growth signals ongoing caution among Chinese consumers, as economic headwinds, falling home prices and a stock market rout prompt many to rein in their spending.
  • Beijing’s crackdown on high-rolling gamblers, who previously accounted for half of Macau’s gaming revenue, means casinos have had to rely more on mass-market tourists, who are more sensitive to economic troubles. While the city’s tourism industry has been recovering from its Covid doldrums, spending per capita has shown signs of slowing.
  • Still, Macau is likely to prove popular with tourists in the short term. Hotel occupancy rates could remain solid in the first quarter, with room prices remaining high in late February and early March, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence note.

Market Performance

  • The Bloomberg Intelligence index of Macau casino operators fell 1.1%. It had risen 12% in February, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index climbed 6.6%.

Read More

  • Buyer for Macau Kingpin’s Former Russia Resort Files to End Deal
  • Macau Sees Record Lunar New Year Visitors in Boost for Casinos
  • HK Warns Jailed Gambling Kingpin’s Former Firms Over Russia Deal
  • Macau Casino Stocks Surge on Recovery in China Tourist Arrivals
  • Macau Casinos’ Revenue Climbs Ahead of Lunar New Year Holiday

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.