Macau Casino Recovery Continues, July Gaming Revenue Tops $1B

Posted on: August 1, 2021, 12:20h. 

Last updated on: August 1, 2021, 12:35h.

Macau casino revenue surpassed $1 billion in a month for the fifth time this year, further generating optimism in the Chinese enclave.

Macau casino gross gaming revenue GGR
A peddler rides his bike in downtown Macau with Grand Lisboa towering in the background. Macau casino revenue topped $1 billion in July 2021. (Image: Getty)

July gross gaming revenue (GGR) for the Special Administrative Region’s (SAR) six commercial casino operators totaled 8.44 billion patacas (US$1.05 billion). That’s more than 29 percent better than June 2021, and a 528 percent gain on July 2020, when COVID-19 rendered the enclave nearly barren of economic activity. 

July marked Macau’s second-best monthly GGR performance of the year, behind only May’s $1.3 billion haul. 

Through seven months, 2021 GGR stands at $7.18 billion. That’s 63.9 percent better than where the market stood at this time last year, but down 67 from pre-pandemic 2019. 

COVID-19 Concerns Continue

July’s $1.05 billion GGR fell short of the median average prediction of roughly $1.08 billion.

Asia is battling a flare-up of new COVID-19 cases. The surge is largely credited to the more contagious delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Macau is currently allowing entry only for certain visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Qualifying applicants must not have traveled to a foreign country within the past three weeks, and must present a recent negative COVID-19 test at the border gate. 

The restrictions have nearly wiped out travel from Hong Kong, a critical market for Macau’s casino resorts. Data shows that arrivals from Hong Kong into Macau are down more than 90 percent in 2021 from 2019.

Uncertainty remains over when Macau’s border with Hong Kong will fully reopen,” Bloomberg reported of June’s casino numbers. 

In addition to Hong Kong, Macau reimplemented stricter entry procedures effective July 30 for travelers arriving from the provinces of Liaoning, Jiangsu, and Sichuan. Because of upticks in new COVID-19 cases, air travelers arriving into Macau on flights from those provinces must now present a negative test completed within the past 48 hours and undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

Casino Confidence

The spark in COVID-19 spread is a setback for Macau’s casinos. But analysts at JPMorgan are not deterred. The financial services firm says it expects August GGR to be the region’s highest monthly revenue number to date in 2021. 

“We expect … a post-pandemic high in August (+20 percent month-on-month), helping investors to regain confidence before the all-important October Golden Week,” the JPMorgan note projected.

Though Macau has limited inbound travel throughout 2021, the region’s Statistics and Census Bureau reports that hotel occupancy through the first six months was 50.4 percent. Approximately 3.378 million guest check-ins were completed January through June, up over 23 percent on the first half of 2020. 

Macau casino resorts will hope the enclave is less restrictive regarding entries come the fall Golden Week, one of the most important annual holidays in China. Held each October 1, the fall Golden Week holiday is to celebrate the 1949 establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

Typically, most Chinese workers are afforded a weeklong holiday. And many — during a pandemic-free world — opt to take their vacation in Macau. In 2019, nearly one million travelers ventured into Macau during the October Golden Week.