Tightened visa restrictions showing negative impact on Macau’s December GGR

Sanford C Bernstein analysts have revised down their Macau GGR estimates for December, citing lower hold and tighter visa controls ahead of China President Xi Jinping’s impending visit this month.

In a Monday note, analysts Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu said that gross gaming revenue through the first eight days of December was estimated to be MOP$5.7 billion (US$707 million), or MOP$713 million per day – a decline of 16% compared with December 2018 and 6% down on November revenue. As a result, they have revised their December numbers down from a previously estimated decline of between 8% and 11% to a decline of between 12% and 16%.

Explaining the fall, Bernstein’s note suggested that both mass and VIP have trended lower during early December, with mass percentage down low single digits and VIP volume percentage down by the low 30s.

“While VIP hold rate is around the normal range, this hold is lower than last December,” the analysts said.

“The weakness in both segments is exacerbated by even tighter visa controls (something that began in November) in preparation for the visit to Macau by China President Xi Jinping later in the month.

“Visa limitations/restrictions on IVS and transit visas are impacting higher frequency higher-end players in both VIP and mass along with junket agents, which has led to significant declines in high end visitation and GGR.”

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