Visitor numbers set to improve in Q3 despite challenges and shifting gaming focus: Deutsche Bank

Macau is poised to see a further improvement in visitor numbers during the third quarter of 2023, recent gaming analysis conducted by Deutsche Bank has suggested.

The study projects that the number of visitors will fall within a range of 15 to 20 percent below the levels observed in 2019.

This forecast comes despite the impact of casinos’ temporary closure amidst super typhoon Saola and a decline in spending by package tour visitors, who still remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels.

While the mass gaming spending per visitor, which includes both slots and table games, has remained higher than the figures recorded in 2019 during the first half of 2023, the report said it had been showing signs of deceleration.

This trend mirrors the recovery experience seen in the United States, where the most dedicated gaming enthusiasts were the first to return, followed by a broader segment of mass customers.

Analysts Carlo Santarelli, Steven Pizzella, and Alfonso Straffon predict a further decline in mass gaming spending per visitor, especially as the group and package tour segment, which is currently more than 80 percent below 2019 levels, continues to expand as programming schedules fill up.

The report by Deutsche Bank also sheds light on the shifting focus within the city’s gaming industry towards mass hold percentages.

Traditionally, “hold percentages” and “luck” were associated with the VIP segment, but the analysts said that there was now increasing attention on mass hold percentages that have yet to reach pre-2019 levels, impacting overall earnings.

One factor contributing to discrepancies in reported revenue, according to them, is the different ways in which operators report gaming metrics.

Some exclude “free play”, while others include it. The inclusion of free play can inflate the total amount wagered without generating cash revenue, thus influencing mass hold percentages, they said.