The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) most recent released numbers showed that Macau’s gaming revenue in June hit the MOP 20 billion (US $2.49 billion) mark, a 25.9% improvement over the same month last year, setting it as the highest monthly gain since February 2014. Macau’s gaming industry has been recovering for 11 consecutive months.

As for the first half of 2017, total gaming revenue was MOP 126.4 billion (USD$15.7 billion), an increase of 17.2% when comparing to the first half of 2016.

This occurs despite the fact that Macau authorities have imposed restrictions on financial transactions, namely the installation of facial recognition software for mainland tourists using Macau’s ATM, the more intense supervision of casinos and junkets on the implementation of phone use on gaming tables to prevent side betting through the livestreaming of VIP table game activity via the WeChat social media platform.

The much talked about smoking ban is soon to be changed as the revised draft is soon to be tabled for discussion at the Legislative Assembly to take effect on 1 of January 2018, provided it is approved plenary meeting of the Macau legislature prior to its summer recess.

Smoking at the casino table is only permitted in areas designated “VIP”. Smokers of the mass marketed will need to either address one of the smoking lounges or step outside of the property. The proposed amendment aims to allow the set-up of smoking lounges in the VIP areas and that they adhere to enhanced technical standards until 2019.

Brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) estimated in March that the gross gaming revenue (GGR) of the amendment will have an impact equal to approximately 5 percent of GGR in 2019.

New properties like MGM Cotai, SJM’s Palazzo and the 13 are all lining up for completion it seems that the road and transportation infrastructure may still be able to handle it.

Currently Macau boasts 36,000 hotel rooms and has a occupancy rate of 95 percent or higher driving the prices higher and limiting the capacity to attract more tourists. The increase in supply will drive the prices down and allow more offer and it is estimated that, between 2016 and 2018, the number of rooms will increase 6,500. The main focus of the authorities to transition into mass market is to drive an increase on the non-gaming offerings so it is expected that new projects will have to bet mainly on that area.

What seems to be missed in the analysis that we keep seeing is that what really matters in Macau is the number of Individual Visit Scheme visa’s that are issued for Mainland Chinese to visit Macau or other regions.

As we have seen several times in the past as soon as the visa issuance is loosened and the number of visitors grows so do the gaming revenues. That is why despite new jurisdictions lining up with their casinos it will all remain a matter of visas that are issued or not.

In 2016 Macau had approximately 20.5 million mainland Chinese visitors, and 44 percent of them came from Guangdong province and 10 million of those visited Macau more than once.

It is certain that we will never see again the same numbers for the VIP market but what is also noted is that it seems that market is more healthy now as it allowed a more “normal” city to live in as it caters to middle class and its families.

It is still estimated that annual growth will range between 10% and 13%, which is not a bad number.