Baccarat players’ spend in Macau drops off

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Baccarat players’ spend in Macau drops off

Casinos in Macau saw a steep drop in third-quarter gross gaming revenues from VIP baccarat players.

World Casino Directory reports that VIP baccarat players’ decreased spend of 16.4 per cent year-on-year is a sharp decline in revenues, totalling $737.7 million.

Citing official information from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, this drop meant that only around 31.5 per cent of the city’s aggregated gross gaming revenues for the three months to the end of September had come from high rollers at the end of baccarat tables.

This fall has been largely attributed to a range of new cross-border travel restrictions recently put in place to help counter the spread of the coronavirus.

Macau is home to a slew of prestigious casino resorts including SJM Holdings’s iconic Casino Grand Lisboa venue and the 3000-room The Venetian Macao, subsidiary of American giant Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

However, the former Portuguese enclave has reportedly been slow to recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and recently saw its aggregated third-quarter gross gaming revenues decline 26.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter to just slightly beyond $2.3 billion.

The third quarter additionally saw the amount of cash brought in by baccarat drop 29.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 80.8 per cent year-on-year to roughly $744.1 million.

The baccarat segment has consequently accounted for just 33.7 per cent of all casino table gaming revenues during the three-month period and a mere 31.5 per cent of aggregated gambling receipts, which represents a crash of 13.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2020 and less than half of the 73 per cent share it enjoyed back in 2011.

Overall, baccarat accounted for an impressive 66.3 per cent of Macau’s aggregated third-quarter casino table gaming revenues alongside 55.8 per cent of its associated gambling receipts.

Nevertheless, attendant quarterly mass-market earnings, which included poker machine takings, purportedly plummeted by 56.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter and 67.8 per cent when compared with the same period in 2019 to about $1.3 billion.

The Macau regulator also disclosed that the enclave’s aggregated gross gaming figures for September had faded by 43.7 per cent when compared with the $1.3 billion high seen in May to stand at just $733 million.

The regulator said these results were heavily impacted by the Chinese government’s decision to reintroduce a two-week quarantine requirement after Macau had experienced a small outbreak of the delta variant of coronavirus.

New mandatory requirement for Macau poker machines

All player screens in Macau machines must be fitted with an intermittently flashing clock showing the local time by the end of 2024, the gaming regulatory has declared.

The requirement is part of the city’s Electronic Gaming Machine Technical Standards version 2.0, which came into force on September 1.

The term “electronic gaming machine” or EGM, is used in Macau to denote casino poker machines.

Electronic table games, or ETGs, are covered by separate technical standards.

“The purpose of a clock on the gaming machine is for the promotion of responsible gambling,” the Macau regular, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said.

That was understood to be a reference to the clock acting as a reminder to players about how much time they are spending on the device.

“All machines will need to be retrofitted with the clock by the end of year 2024,” the gaming regulator said.

Manufacturers begin integrating new time-related software

Starting from this month, the Macau regulator will offer a grace period in which gaming equipment makers will be required to retrofit existing machines with the necessary software and ensure new machines supplied to the Macau market will have such a clock feature as standard, by the end of 2024.

As of June 30, the end of the second quarter, the Macau market had 9,871 poker machines, according to data from the regulator.

The gaming bureau confirmed that the figure included electronic table game terminals and poker machines.

The time display on machines will be in 12-hour clock format, in the bottom-right corner of the player main screen, according to the technical standards.

The standards also specify that the player screen or other interface points must not have any hidden touch points or hidden buttons that affect game play.

That is understood by the industry to be a regulatory response to developments in touchscreen technology.

The gaming bureau was asked about its thoughts on a ban on hidden touch points or hidden buttons on poker machine player screens, but it only opted to quote from the new standards.

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