MGM Resorts boss James Murren has blamed ongoing concerns over the recent US government shutdown for what he says was a more modest Chinese New Year at the company’s Las Vegas properties last week.
Discussing the usually lucrative CNY holiday during MGM’s 4Q18 earnings call on Thursday, Murren said he anticipates lower numbers for the period due in part to lower hold than in 2017 but also the absence of some high-end players.
“There are a few players that just did not come to the United States, partly due to the government shutdown, some other logistical issues,” he said.
“We lost some groups to places like Sydney and London, so we can thank our total government for that.
“We still have a good play in town and … we’re 49% of the entire baccarat business in Las Vegas so I feel like we have a good feel for what’s going on here, but I would say at this point in time we’re going to be below what we earned last year for Chinese New Year as a result of the whole delta and fewer customers in town.”
Meanwhile, MGM China CEO and Executive Director Grant Bowie has warned that strong visitation to MGM’s two Macau IRs over the Chinese New Year period was unlikely to translate to GGR growth – despite MGM’s Macau operations recording a 33% year-on-year rise in revenue in the three months to 31 December 2018 on the back of MGM Cotai’s ongoing ramp.
“It was solid for us, a lot of traffic in the city,” Bowie said of Chinese New Year.
“It looks like the [Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau] bridge has driven a lot of traffic. But that probably hasn’t converted into gaming revenue. I’m not expecting that there’s significant spikes in GGR.
“I think we are now starting to find that when it comes to gaming play, when we get into these big holiday seasons, clearly we are getting a lot of footfall and a lot of traffic into the city but it’s probably more likely to be leisure visitors as opposed to, say, more gaming leisure.”
Analysts offered a similar view this week, stating that Macau’s 26.6% increase in visitation across the seven days of Golden Week was unlikely to support any significant boost in GGR for the month of February.