Macau’s lucrative premium mass segment is already back to around 50% of pre-COVID levels with Sands China’s leadership team stating Thursday they are confident the recovery is now well and truly underway.
The state of Macau’s gaming market was a hot topic of discussion during Las Vegas Sands’ 1Q21 earnings call, with analysts focusing heavily on the recovery trajectory.
Figures published by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) recently showed gross gaming revenues rising in March to a 15-month high of MOP$8.31 billion (US$1.04 billion). But Chum said the upward trend was clearly continuing through April – led by the mass and premium mass segments.
“I think you’ve clearly seen the mass and VIP segments have diverged in terms of the recovery,” said Chum during LVS’s 1Q21 earnings call this morning (Asia time).
“Premium mass has made a very significant recovery approaching 50% of pre-pandemic levels. VIP on the other hand is still struggling at sub-20%. The segments are following very different trajectories and we would expect that to continue for the time being.
“The turn started in March where we started to experience an increase in visitation and that has continued with similar momentum in April. The acceleration is seen very encouragingly across all segments, mass and premium mass, but the most encouraging thing is that since March we’re really seeing an acceleration in base mass as well as the leisure FIT guests in the hotel and in retail – especially at the high-end consumption end of things.”
Chum said it had become clear in recent years that Macau’s premium mass segment – which is the primary target of Sands China’s US$2 billion transformation of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao – had become the segment of choice for a growing number of customers.
“I don’t think those dynamics have really changed since a few years ago – there is a structural change over time where more of the customers are dealing directly with the casino operators,” he said. “The improvements in assets of the integrated resorts has attracted consumers to the premium mass program and we expect that to continue over time too.”