Two-Deck Shoe: Dueling Views on the Gambling ETF

The consumer discretionary sector has been a solid performer with the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLY) and its rivals ranking near the upper tier of sector exchange traded funds.

Ebullience for discretionary names has not matriculated to casino and gaming stocks. For example, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NasdaqGS: WYNN) are down an average of 5.3% this year. With that in mind, the 0.3% gain for the Market Vectors Gaming ETF (NYSEArca: BJK) is impressive, but there are dueling views of the ETF’s near- to medium-term fortunes.

February “data showed that gaming revenue fell for the ninth straight month in Macau, with the total casino take down 48.6 per cent in February to 19.5 billion patacas ($3.1 billion). It is the biggest monthly fall since the casino sector was liberalised in 2004,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Sliding gaming revenue in Macau is a thorny issue for BJK because the ETF allocates 13.7% of its weight to Chinese stocks, which in the case of this ETF means companies with significant Macau exposure. [Chips are down for the Casino ETF]

Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, has been pressuring BJK since last year. In 2014, gamblers stayed home to bet on the World Cup. Limited access to smaller smaller junket operators, who extend credit to gamblers, is also weighing on the market. Macau has also been cracking down on illegal transactions and imposed new regulatory changes, such as restricting the use of China UnionPay Co.’s debit cards at casinos. [Macau Illegal Transaction Crackdown Puts Gaming ETF in the Red]

“Gaming revenue will keep sliding through mid-year and dividends will be cut as the cost of new capacity eats into free-cash flow, leaving share valuations too expensive, said Jamie Zhou, an analyst at Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong,” report Jonathan Burgos and Kana Nishizawa for Bloomberg.