The death of Macau has been greatly exaggerated. Only the passage of time will solve the crazy credit comparisons (1H 2008) in the Rolling Chip business. However, the more profitable Mass Market segment has held up remarkably well despite the much discussed visa restrictions. The chart below details the YoY change in monthly mass market gaming revenues.

Not only has Mass Market visitation been more or less sustained, it appears to be accelerating over the past few weeks. The easy answer is the Chinese economy is doing fine, still growing, especially relative to the rest of the world, and the stock market is up 22% year to date. I love the capitalism delta. More importantly, we’ve received anecdotal evidence that the Central Government has relaxed the visa restrictions. Some are speculating that visas can be obtained in 15-30 days now. This is a pretty big positive for the Macau operators.

The momentum appears to be building. Beijing has a vested interest in providing a tailwind for the new Chief Executive. Mass Market visitation is potentially improving earlier than we thought. The Rolling Chip comparisons ease considerably in September.

It seems that most of the Macau properties have experienced positive visitation trends as of late which should show up in the March numbers. Two standouts have emerged: the Grand Lisboa owned by SJM and LVS’s Venetian Macau.

March should look better