Too early to say whether Macau is recovering: Galaxy boss

Galaxy Entertainment chairman Lui Che Woo says it’s still too early to make the call that Macau is on the road to recovery.

“While Macau’s gambling industry has hit the bottom, it’s still too early to call it a recovery,” said Lui, in an interview with Bloomberg. “Give me two more years to see. It takes time to gradually attract more mass-market customers.”

In August, Macau posted its first year-on-year increase in gross gaming revenue after a 26-month slump, according to the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ).

The gaming hub raked in MOP 18.8 billion ($2.4 billion) in gross gaming revenue in the month, an increase of 1.1 percent year-on-year.

But Lui said more-sustained growth would need to be observed before deciding if the worst is over, and said he believes the best strategy for achieving that would be to target mass-market gamblers rather than VIPs.

Galaxy reported strong results in the first half of 2016, with profit up 26 percent year-on-year, citing a rise in non-gaming revenue and casino market share as a result of new resort openings.

According to a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the casino operator reported net profit of HK$2.6 billion ($335.31 million) for the first half of 2016.

In its filing, the operator said it remained optimistic about Macau’s prospects in the medium term, saying that it saw signs of stabilization in the broader mass market.

“The first half of 2016 was encouraging for Macau and we continued to see gradual signs of stabilisation, as it diversifies, and the shift towards mass segment continues.”

The company said the shift towards the mass segment will continue, which will be supported by improved infrastructure, including the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the Taipa Ferry Terminal and the extension of the train line connecting Zhuhai to the Lotus Bridge in Hengqin, a project that will significantly improve access to Cotai.

“We expect these factors to combine in the short to medium-term to drive increased overnight visitor numbers, who stay longer, and have a higher non-gaming spend,” said the company in a statement.