Citigroup Global Markets Inc. has completed a research paper on Macau gambling that covers the recently ended week-long Chinese New Year (CNY) celebrations. Some of the numbers draw direct comparisons between CNY 2019, the last pre-Covid tally, and CNY 2023 the first time the government has allowed free travel since the start of the pandemic.
The number of gamblers was not as high this year as it was in the same period in 2019, but according to a GGRAsia report on the gambling survey and analysis, the amount bet on each hand was “much higher” than in the previous period.
The surveys focused on premium mass gambling floors and mass gambling, rather than VIP rooms and junket tables.
One player observed in the survey reportedly bet about US$92,500 (HKD 725,000) on a baccarat bet at MGM Macau’s premium mass area.
Fat Stacks of Chips – Big Bets
In Cotai at Wynn Palace, Citigroup surveyors reported that one gambler was observed with “an approximately HKD 6-million chip stack in front of him, and he was betting HKD 300,000 a hand,” according to the report.
January 27th was the last day of the seven-day Chinese holiday marking the lunar new year and celebrated all over the world. However, most CNY celebrations outside of mainland China, Macau, and Hong Kong – which are special administrative districts of China – only saw local revelers as mainland Chinese failed to travel outside of areas administered by the Chinese government as citizens reorient themselves to a world without draconian health controls.
Government data counted nearly half a million visitors to Macau over the Chinese New Year week, nearly 3x as many as visited last year, but only about a third as many as in pre-pandemic 2019 CNY. The official numbers showed 451,047 visitors arrived throughout the so-called Golden Week, an increase year-on-year of 297%.
Gross gaming revenue in Macau reportedly swelled over 232% over the previous month with the explosion of travel, gambling, and revenues coinciding with the mainland government ending its zero-Covid policies.
Comparing the number of players observed in “premium mass” areas, the report indicated that just under 500 players were observed over the course of the week. That was a little more than half as many as were found around high-limit table games in the 2019 survey.
Fewer Players Betting More
While there were fewer players at the premium tables, the players were betting more this year than during the comparable period in early 2019. The 490 players observed over the week gambling at premium mass tables bet an average of just over $3,000 per hand (US$3082/HKD 24,178). The average bet was 45% higher this year than it was in 2019.
The obvious takeaway from those two topline observations is that player numbers were down, but higher-quality players visited the premium mass gaming areas in Macau for the holidays during this period.
Across the mass gaming floors of 15 major Macau casinos, the average minimum bet observed was about $285 (HKD 2,235), roughly in line with the average minimum bets of February 2019. While close to the value of 2019 bets, it’s important to note that this year’s numbers were up about 2% but only 1% shy of the record average minimum bet observed a few months before the 2019 survey period. Some hotels in Macau were sold out during CNY in 2019.
Source: Jaw-dropping wagers in Macau CNY survey: Citigroup, GGRAsia, February 2, 2023