Sands China is establishing a leading market position among premium mass bettors in Macau, according to a recent survey by Citigroup analysts.
Premium mass is the segment above the mass market and below VIPs or whales. Sands China, a unit of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) that runs five integrated resorts in the special administrative region (SAR), has long tussled with Galaxy Entertainment for the top spot among mass and premium mass players. Now, Sands appears to be winning that battle.
Sands China dethroned Galaxy to become premium mass leader with an approximately 24-percent market share in total wager observed,” noted Citi analysts George Choi and Ryan Cheung.
Following the collapse of Macau’s junket industry, concessionaires’ ability to lure mass and premium mass bettors is crucial, because those players offer operators decent margins and often require less in the way of comps, meaning they spend on dining and rooms. Premium mass players typically play high-limit table games, though not at the stakes of their VIP counterparts.
Strong Start to 2023 for Sands China
Owing to China finally relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, Macau is bouncing back in significant fashion to start 2023, with Sands China carving out a noticeable leadership role.
“The January and February surveys that we have conducted so far in 2023 suggest that Sands China … has cemented itself as a legitimate contender in the premium mass race, thanks to product offerings at the Londoner and Plaza,” according to Citi analysts.
Macau’s newly revised gaming law includes limits on the number of table games each casino can offer. That’s beneficial to the likes of Sands and Galaxy, which were already dominant in the mass segment, because analysts expect the new requirements will compel operators to increase offerings geared toward mass and premium mass customers.
Further cementing the importance of premium mass clients to Macau casino operators, that segment’s average bet per hand to this point in February is outpacing what was seen in March 2019 — also a month following Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations — indicating the segment is leading the SAR’s 2023 rebound.
The Citi analysts also pointed out that premium mass average bet size at Londoner Macau is elevated this month, and demand for rooms at the property is so strong that the operator doesn’t have adequate room supply to offer to nonbettors.
Macau Premium Mass Helping Other Operators
Because of the aforementioned demise of the SAR’s junket industry, concessionaires that were previously the favorites of whales are having to swiftly pivot to being more mass and premium mass friendly. Data indicate Wynn Macau is proving adept at that, according to Citi.
While Wynn Macau has a history of relying on VIP customers, the operator can likely shuffle some of those clients into the premium mass group going forward, which could be accretive to margins.
Citi also noted that MGM China, which runs two Macau venues, “might be experiencing some normalization in premium mass market share this month,” while SJM Holdings is lagging when it comes to premium mass share.
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