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Macau February GGR Down Against January's Results

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Macau's casino industry saw a slight dip in revenue in February, with gross gaming revenue (GGR) reaching MOP18.5 billion (US$2.29 billion). This represents a 4.4% decrease from January's MOP19.3 billion (US$2.39 billion) and a 5.2% drop compared to the October high of MOP19.5 billion (US$2.41 billion).

Down Against January, Up from 2022

Despite the February decline, the GGR figure still marks a significant 79.1% increase compared to 2023. However, it remains 73% lower than the MOP25.4 billion (US$3.14 billion) recorded in February 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic's impact.

The Chinese New Year Golden Week, which fell within February this year, brought a positive impact on tourism. Visitor arrivals reached nearly 1.36 million during the period, with average hotel occupancy rates hitting an impressive 95.2%. This influx of visitors likely contributed to the GGR performance.

Analysts at UBS estimate that the mass market segment, which typically contributes 80-85% of Macau's total GGR, maintained stable spending per visitor. This suggests that individual gamblers continued to spend at similar levels compared to pre-pandemic times, with estimates ranging from MOP5,400 to MOP5,700 (US$669 to $706) per visitor.

Looking ahead, the recent expansion of the Individual Visitor Scheme (IVS) to include Qingdao and Xi'an, effective from March 6, is expected to further boost tourism and potentially contribute to increased GGR. Citigroup predicts that this policy could attract an additional 565,000 visitors to Macau annually.

GDP Shored Up by Gaming

Beyond the casino industry, Macau's overall economy is experiencing significant growth. The city's gross domestic product (GDP) surged by 86.4% year-on-year in real terms during the fourth quarter of 2023. This growth is largely attributed to the "remarkable recovery of exports of services," as reported by the city's Statistics and Census Service.

This recovery is evident in the significant increase in exports of gaming services and other tourism services, which rose by 430.8% and 130.2%, respectively, compared to the previous year. It's important to note that Macau's GDP calculations include gaming services as exports, reflecting tourist spending in its casinos.

Macau's fourth-quarter GDP also saw a positive 9.9% growth compared to the previous quarter, reaching MOP107.7 billion (US$13.34 billion) at current prices. Domestic demand also contributed to the positive economic outlook, with a 3.5% year-on-year increase, driven by a rise in private consumption expenditure and gross fixed capital formation.

Looking at the full year of 2023, Macau's GDP witnessed an 80.5% year-on-year surge in real terms. The city's GDP reached MOP379.5 billion (US$47 billion) in 2023, compared to MOP197.3 billion (US$24.44 billion) in the previous year.

With the expansion of the IVS and continued economic recovery, Macau is poised for further growth in 2024. The city's Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, has forecasted a GDP growth of 10.3% for the year.

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