Baccarat is among the most entertaining table games. It is a matter of fact that the game is mostly favored on the Asian gambling market. Entering one of the many flashing land-based gambling venues in the gaming Mecca of Macau, the first thing one can see is a flock of people, surrounding the baccarat tables. The players are nervously clutching their cards, courting Lady Luck and even performing superstitious rituals. Besides the players, there is a bunch of other people, who are staring at the table impatiently waiting to take a seat and try their luck. Therefore, it is not a surprise that a great number of the Macau-based casinos focus their attention on offering namely VIP baccarat and mass market baccarat as the two main games in Macau casinos, bringing the lion’s share of the total gross gaming revenue (GGR).
Baccarat – the Main Gambling Revenue Booster
For decades, Macau is the epicenter of baccarat. Even though the game’s share in the gaming revenue fluctuated over the years, it should be admitted that the game is still the dominant force in Macau-based casinos. The diagram represents baccarat gross gaming revenue from 2007 to 2016 in a chronological way. According to various statistics and financial reports, VIP baccarat has the biggest share of the revenue pie. It is followed by standard baccarat and other mass market table games such as blackjack or roulette. In 2008, it was reported that revenue from VIP baccarat generated HK$73,772,000, mass-market baccarat gleaned HK$21,264,000, while revenues from blackjack were estimated to be only HK$2,247,000.
A similar situation was noticed in 2013, when baccarat was again ahead even of the popular blackjack. It was reported that the amount of money, which Macau casinos pocketed from blackjack was HK$3,052,000, witnessing a slight increase of 35% compared to the figures related to 2008. VIP baccarat tables, on the other hand, contributed with HK$238,524,000 to Macau-based casinos’ revenues, which represents almost 223% increase in comparison to 2008. Here it should be added that even standard baccarat outperformed blackjack, bringing HK$91,599,000 profit, or a rise of nearly 91%.
In 2014, baccarat revenue was at its peak. Macau-based casinos reported that more than 90% of their income is derived from the two types of baccarat. Based on these figures, it is not hard to notice the stubborn upward movement of the revenue generated from baccarat. Nevertheless, it is hard to use the word “tendency” here, as baccarat witnessed also a certain decline in terms of its revenue. Even though still way ahead of all the table games offered in Macau, in 2015 baccarat revenue registered a slight drop.
In 2016, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau issued a report, which revealed that VIP baccarat was still the main revenue booster and gross revenues from mass market baccarat also went up. In July this year, Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau issued a financial report, representing that VIP baccarat revenue equated to MOP35.85 billion (US $4.46 billion) for Q2 2017, which is 1% higher compared to the figures corresponding to Q1 2017.
Reasons for Baccarat’s Best Popularity
All these figures and statistics are self-evident for baccarat’s best popularity. In fact, it is worth to note that Macau has generated higher revenue from baccarat in comparison to the never-sleeping Las Vegas. The curious minds may ask themselves why baccarat is enjoying such warm feelings on the Asian market. It is hard to outline one particular reason why baccarat is attracting the attention of a great number of Macau players, but it is a matter of fact that baccarat is light-years ahead of blackjack in terms of popularity.
Among all other things, baccarat is a fast-paced game with simple rules. Players do not need to craft any sophisticated strategies as everything is in the fickle hands of Lady Luck. That is yet another reason for the game’s popularity. Chinese players are superstitious and they believe that winnings should be a matter of luck, which perfectly fits baccarat’s coin flip profile. It is not uncommon to see Chinese players blowing on the cards, believing that they will get rid of the bad luck. What is more is that baccarat is the only game considered to have the best odds against the house.
Another factor, which contributed to the game’s popularity is Macau’s attempt to fight dirty cash. Consequently, the Chinese officials tightened anti-money laundering regulations for the casino industry, which damaged the proliferating trade. The anti-money laundering crackdown resulted in many regular high-stakes gamblers to re-direct their attention, leaving Macau’s gambling industry at life support. Struggling to stabilize after the sizeable decline, many casino operators started to explore various ways to diversify their gambling environment, setting it apart from the competition. Currently, Macau-based casinos boost rich selections of games, but it is only VIP baccarat which offers to its players high stakes using borrowed money.
Considering the aforementioned figures and statistics, it can be concluded that Macau’s gambling industry is mostly built on baccarat. Baccarat contributes an important slice to the overall casino revenues. Even though revenue generated from baccarat witnessed its peaks and downfalls, the game never stepped down from its dominance. Some industry experts even claim that namely baccarat was the reason for the trade’s revival in Macau. It is yet to become clear if the things will change and another table game is to take the lead, but baccarat will always have a special place in Chinese players’ hearts.