Macau in Figures – A year into the recession

2015_08_Monthly Gross Revenue

One could say that the above graph shows all there is to say about the current state of Gambling in Macau, yet we will come to that as we are deep diving into the current situation. First of all, the month of August has ended and figures for August will be released sometime later in September by DICJ. Until then we can work with what we see above. And what do we see?

  1. The peak gaming revenue was in February 2014
  2. The first sign of a low was in June 2014
  3. The downwards trend has continued (with smaller peaks in between) until July 2015
  4. Lowest point in the downward trend had been June 2014 so far with 17 billion MOP revenue, the same as experienced in November 2010 for the last time.
  5. July 2015, the last month on record logged 18.6 billion MOP, the same as experienced in January 2011 for the last time.
  6. Comparing the low in June 2015 with the peak in February 2014, Macau revenue has dropped by 55% in less than a year.

The following graphs capture  the same set of data in slightly different views:

2015_08 - Comparison of Monthly Growth Rates

The above graph compares total revenue figures (in million MOP) month to previous years’ month. Also here the sudden drop in June 2014 is visible and there had been no month that was able to peak higher than the corresponding season the year before. That includes every month in 2015. That gap was highest in February 2015 as visualized below:

2015_08 - Gap to last year

Whereas one might think that a stabilized graph, as seen between March to July 2015 is a good thing, in reality it is a sign of negative growth as it represents the gap towards the last years revenue figure and if continuing over a year resembles a downward trend.

2015_08 - Monthly Gross Revenue compared to last years month

The above graph, with data from January 2010 all the way to July 2015 shows the growth rate of revenues compared on a month-to-last-years month basis in percentage. Once again, the downward trend is more than visible.

2015_08 - Growth Month to Month and Average

This graph is focussed on comparing growth rates between consecutive months, i.e. January 2015 to December 2014 and gives an indication on the general trend. The more peaks are below the 0% line, the more of a downward trend it is, whereas when there are more peaks above the 0% line, revenues are growing. The red line resembles the average for each half year of each month’s growth/decline percentage. Once again, the downward trend starting in 2014 is visible.

Whereas the above are great representations of probably the most talked about issue in Macau, they are all based upon one single set of data:

  • Revenue of Games of Fortune in Macau

The above alone cannot be representable for the state of Macau is the following is not taken into account:

  • Visitor figures
  • Openings of hotels and casinos
  • Unemployment figures
  • External factors

Let’s have a look at the visitor figures as published for Macau. DSEC has released figures up to Q2 2015 (and the month of July, which is being excluded in our comparison below).

2015_08 - Visitor Figures

Immediatelly visible is a drop in visitors from mainland China. This is also visible when one makes the overall graph for comprehensible:

2015_08 - China vs Rest

Before going into further discussions on any of the implications, let’s review this a little bit further.

  • Peak visitors overall to Macau had been in Q3 2014 (surprisingly in the quarter in which the drop of revenues occurred). The same quarter had also seen the highest amount of visitors from mainland China.
  • Q2 of 2015 is the lowest quarter in the recent downward trend and is the lowest quarter since Q2 of 2013 (i.e. two years)
  • The peak in visitors had actually not just been one quarter, but two quarters, with Q4 of 2014 having had the second highest number of mainland Chinese tourists (and the second highest overall visitor figure as well)
  • Rest of World is pretty stable and Hongkong has not escaped it longterm downward trend.

Let’s have a look at the gambling revenue broken down into visitors (per-head-analysis):

2015 - Revenue Down

Since Q2 2014, revenue per head (i.e. per visitor) is down compared to the previous quarters. No remember that Q3 and Q4 of 2014 had been extremely strong visitor months hereas revenue as sinking, so let’s have a look at an overlap of the figures:

2015 - Visitors and Revenue

What can be seen above is a very dangerous trend: Not only are the overall visitor figures decreasing, but at the same time, the spending per head is decreasing as well. The current spending rate of about 7740 MOP per visitor in gambling revenues is the lowest figure since Q3 2010.

This leads us to our next verification: which major casinos or hotels opened during the recession? Often it is talked about that Macau is adding it’s Cotai 2.0 projects to the market. Galaxy Macau Phase 2 was the first of several large resorts to open. It opened on May 27th 2015. So let’s have a closer look at the months that followed the opening. In particular we are looking at visitor figures to see if an additional casino would attract more visitors:

2015 - Visitors after Galaxy Opened

It is important to note that we want to compare Total Visitor figures on a monthly basis agains the same period the year before and the year before that. We do NOT want to compare consecutive months as that might be a one-time trend, whereas comparing a similar time in the year the year before will give one a clue if there had been an impact or not.

As can be seen above, June 2014 and July 2014 had seen much higher visitor figures than 2015 or 2013. That is in line with previous indications about a peak in 2014. As such whatever stimulus the opening of Galaxy Macau Phase 2 had, it was not enough to get visitor figures back up to 2014 levels. They are however higher than 2013.

Above we have looked at revenue figures and total visitors. We have not yet looked at individual casino’s performances (which would require a little bit of deep research for which I do not have time at hand right now). We can however have a look at the unemployment rates of Macau:

2015_Unemployment Rate

Over the years unemployment dropped significantly and even throughout most of the recession, unemployment was at a record low of 1.7%. Only in the second quarter of 2015 unemployment slightly increased to 1,8%. As such it can be concluded that the recession had no impacts on the employment situation of the Macau workforce.

What are the external factors that caused the above?


Macau: The Parisian and Studio City – Construction Photo Progress

The Parisian ~ under construction

The Parisian, scheduled for completion sometime in 2016 with it’s Eiffel Tower wrapped in scaffolding.

Studio City Construction ~ two months to opening

Studio City, two months before opening, both ferries wheels clearly visible.

For more photos taken on last Friday, August 28th 2015, check out my respective photo set.

Galaxy Macau Phase 2 / Broadway Macau – First Impressions on Opening Night

This bridge is still without any fitout - preparation for Phase 3?

Galaxy Macau opened its Phase 2 as well as the adjacent Broadway Macau. Having received 150 gaming table quota from government expectations were high for the opening and construction was ongoing until the very last minute.

Note: With 150 gaming tables given to Galaxy, there are only 25 tables available for further allocation (good luck, Studio City). Also next year will be a tight fight for these tables.

However Galaxy Macau Phase 2 as well as Broadway Macau were not only about Gaming. Galaxy had promised a lot of non-gaming elements including an extensive retail promenade, a food street and a big theater. Were they ready for the Grand Opening? Well, in parts… from my walk at Phase 2 and Broadway there are a lot of retail shops still under construction and hidden behind hoarding:

Galaxy Phase 2 Retail Promenade

Further it seems that Galaxy could have used some more time prior opening as there was visible a lot of construction dust and dirt as well as finishing defects.

Where is the waterproof seal?

Weather seal/waterproofing not complete at this exterior column.

Escalator is dirty with construction dust

Escalators were full of deep construction dirt.

Paint and stickers on new marble

Marble had the typical well-known Galaxy defects (cracks) as well as, in this case, factory stickers, excessive adhesive and paint droplets.

But these things can be fixed relatively quickly within a few weeks of opening one by one. More worrisome was the fact that during my visit at the opening night it was not too crowded. Arriving around 8PM there were tables available at many food outlets (or with a reasonably short waiting time), it was not too crowded and in general one was able to walk from one end to the other. Given that the opening happened during a mid week day, this weekend will given Galaxy the real test if their plan worked out and they can make the additional gaming revenue they anticipated.

Cotai 2.0 has started and time will very quickly tell how the story will continue …

Further references:

Smog in Macau – No more green

That is why Macau never has green plants ~ dust turns them greyish green

In line with my recent post about the current AQI levels in Macau, I would like to present another two photos that left me thinking about the air quality in Macau. The above photo, as well as the below one, are part of my 2015 Smog in Macau photo set on Flickr, in which I collect all screenshots, readings and related photos about pollution in Macau.

The photo above was taken in Macau close to government offices in proximity of the chapel of Our Lady of Penha and Lilau Square. What can be seen is a layer of dust that sits on the leaves of this plant. This is the main reason that Macau is not green and plants, trees and flowers do not look as vivid as e.g. in Europe or other parts of the world.

The second photo, below, shows our balcony’s washing machine. Here, again, dust has accumulated on the cover. This is the accumulated dust of approximatelly two weeks. A thin layer of black and grey. The AQI in recent days reached 150 and above for several hours per day. That is categorized as “unhealthy”.

Once again I recommend everyone to get themselves a PM2.5 protection mask (N95 mask) from a local store. A pack of 50 masks costs about 300 MOP (3M type).

Dust on the washing machine

Smog in Macau – A word of caution – 171 on the PM 2.5 index


Monday evening, March 16th 2015, the smog is still visible


The AQI for PM2.5 reached 171 yesterday in Taipa’s Central Park

Yesterday was a very smoggy day in Macau. Today was not better. Walking outside in Taipa, one could taste the air. Checking out the official SMG website its front indicator showed 40 to 60 on the air quality index, i.e. Good to Moderate. How can that be when one cannot see the sun or blue sky? The answer is further hidden on the SMG website (see definitions):

The calculation period for daily AQI is from 12:00 noon of yesterday to 12:00 noon of today. Each sub-index is calculated from at least 18 hours of sampling data for that period. Otherwise, it is considered to be fallacious. If the AQI is above 100, the pollutant which results in that index will also be indicated.”


Sunday afternoon, no blue sky, no sun.

What does that mean? It means that the AQI as shown on SMG reflects a 24 hour period for PM 2.5 and NOT the current or real time data. In fact, looking at the concentrations for Sunday one can see the spike starting at morning time:


Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Sunday

Monday was by far not better:

Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Monday evening

Concentration levels for PM2.5 on Monday evening

These concentration levels are being recorded on a real time basis with an hourly publication on the SMG website within the section ‘Concentrations’. The daily index however is being calculated on a 24 hour basis, backdated to the last noon-to-noon period. Details on the standard way of calculation can be found here. That means when one wakes up and sees the smiley faces and the weather forecast states “mist” or “fog”, one cannot trust these statements.

Monday Evening, Home Page of SMG showing the AQI

Monday Evening, Home Page of SMG showing the AQI


Screenshot, taken Monday evening, showing the weather cam and the indication ‘Mist’


In fact, let’s have a look at the real time data collected from the very same Taipa Central Park station:

Real time data overview of AQI for Central Park Station Taipa, by AQICN.ORG

Real time data overview of AQI for Central Park Station Taipa, by AQICN.ORG

This website shows the current AQI for the corresponding PM 2.5 concentration in that particular hour. Going from this chart 6 hours of yesterday and over 8 hours of today had been “unhealthy”. And what does that mean? According to Technical Assistance Document for the Reporting of Daily Air Quality – the Air Quality Index (AQI) by the US Environmental Protection Agency an ‘unhealthy’ PM 2.5 figure means:

Increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with cardiopulmonary disease, older adults, and people of lower SES; increased respiratory effects in general population

The air quality can change dramatically within a short period of time and due the backdated nature of SMG’s AQI, one can endanger oneself’s health by only following the smiley face picture without checking the accurate real time data provided otherwise.

To summarize:

  • The SMG website shows AQI as a daily average figure that does not represent correctly the real time situation in Macau and Taipa
  • Real time data is available at AQICN (there is also an app for downloading)
  • When the air is unhealthy, please please please wear an appropriate respiratory protection mask

Further information: