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A Casino Recovery May Come Sooner Than Expected in the U.S.

By Travis Hoium – Aug 2, 2020 at 10:39AM

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Early numbers on Las Vegas gambling are better than Macao's, and that's a surprising result in the casino industry.

Earnings season has begun for the casino industry, and it's going to be a disaster by any measure. Las Vegas casinos were closed for most of the second quarter, and travel restrictions in and around Macao likely hampered the world's biggest gambling market in a big way. 

The first company to report earnings was Las Vegas Sands (LVS -2.62%) and its results could tell us a lot about how MGM Resorts (MGM -0.90%), Wynn Resorts (WYNN -2.05%), and Melco Resorts (MLCO 1.22%) fared last quarter. 

Macao's skyline on a partly cloudy day.

Image source: Getty Images.

Las Vegas isn't looking good

Despite being closed for two months, somehow Las Vegas was the best-performing region for Las Vegas Sands in the second quarter. The company saw revenue fall 92% to just $36 million, but that was better than the 98% drop in Macao and 97% plunge in Singapore.

Digging deeper into the numbers, there may be a silver lining for Las Vegas. Table games win per unit per day, which is reported for every casino, was $2,087 for days the casino was open. That's down from $4,621 a year ago but shows that business returned relatively quickly in June when casinos opened. Slot machine win was even more impressive at $327 per slot machine per day, down from $349 a year ago. 

Not surprisingly, occupancy was just 33.5% of available rooms, which accounts for some rooms not being available to accommodate social distancing. All things considered, Las Vegas performed relatively well. 

Macao looks even worse

As far as Las Vegas revenue has fallen, Macao is going to be much worse. I mentioned the 98% drop in revenue at Las Vegas Sands' resorts, but the numbers for tables are terrible. Table games win per unit per day at The Venetian Macao was $95, down from $13,556 a year ago. At The Parisian Macao, tables actually lost $850 per day compared to a win of $13,715 per day last year. 

Slot machines weren't much better, with win per unit per day at $18 in The Venetian Macao, down from $294 a year ago. 

I'll note that Macao resorts and casinos were open most of the month, despite restrictions on travel from China and Hong Kong, which impacted results. But unlike Las Vegas, opening the doors wasn't enough to bring customers back to Macao's resorts. 

What we should expect this quarter

Casino companies have different exposures to different markets so the indicators we see above are worth paying attention to. Early returns seem to be solid for a company like MGM Resorts, which is reliant on Las Vegas for a high percentage of its revenue. Melco Resorts is an Asian operator with most of its revenue in Macao, so the quarter is going to be terrible there. In between is Wynn Resorts, which now has two resorts in the U.S. (Las Vegas and Boston) and two resorts in Macao. 

There isn't a lot to like in what's being reported for the second quarter in the casino industry, but investors should keep an eye on the trends. Las Vegas' opening seems to be going fairly well and that bodes well for the future of U.S. gambling. Macao and Singapore may be starting to open up as travel restrictions are loosened in Asia, but gamblers clearly aren't coming back as quickly as they are in the U.S. 

Consumer discretionary stocks like this are going to have a long road to recovery and results will be choppy. But I'm already surprised that a city like Las Vegas may lead the industry's recovery in 2020.

Travis Hoium owns shares of MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Wynn Resorts, Limited Stock Quote
Wynn Resorts, Limited
$63.03 (-2.05%) $-1.32
MGM Resorts International Stock Quote
MGM Resorts International
$29.72 (-0.90%) $0.27
Las Vegas Sands Stock Quote
Las Vegas Sands
$37.52 (-2.62%) $-1.01
Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited Stock Quote
Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited
$6.63 (1.22%) $0.08

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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