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Macau gambling revenue grows in 2018, shrugging off trade war fears

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But a new bridge connecting Macau and Hong Kong with other parts of southern China that opened in October, part of a massive economic integration project known as the Greater Bay Area, appears yet to have had a major impact.

Govertsen said that visitor numbers to Macau have technically surged since the bridge opened — but that’s largely due to tour groups transiting through Macau via the bridge rather than relying on ferries as before.

“In reality, we believe that true visitation to Macau is increasing modestly,” he wrote, adding that spending per visitor was “also up nicely.” Continued mass market growth “underpins the solid fundamentals we continue to see in Macau,” he said.

Concerns that U.S. casino operators, which depend on licenses to operate in Macau, could get caught up in the trade dispute were voiced last year, including by famed short-seller Jim Chanos, but the scenario has yet to play out.

The gaming and entertainment environment in Macau, ruled by Portugal for 400 years until 1999, has changed dramatically since a government monopoly ended and foreign operators began to receive casino concessions from 2002. Big Las Vegas names MGM, Wynn and Sands now operate there.

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