Macau Casino Revenue Stumbles in August Due to COVID-19 Detection

Posted on: September 1, 2021, 07:20h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2021, 10:15h.

Macau casino revenue retracted last month after four new positive COVID-19 cases were identified in the Chinese Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Macau casinos gross gaming revenue COVID-19
A woman takes a selfie while wearing her mask standing outside Grand Lisboa in downtown Macau. Casinos in the Chinese enclave struggled in August, as new COVID-19 cases returned to the region. (Image: Bloomberg)

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) totaled $554.5 million in August, a 47.4 percent month-to-month decline from July. August 2021 was nonetheless a substantial improvement on August 2020, when the enclave’s six commercial casino operators combined to win just $166 million.

August marked Macau’s lowest GGR monthly performance in 2021. The previous low was June, when casinos won $820 million.

Through eight months, Macau GGR stands at $7.73 billion. While that’s up 70.1 percent on the same period in 2020, it’s a far cry from the $24.75 billion the enclave gaming industry won from gamblers during the eight months in the pre-pandemic 2019.

COVID-19 Setback

August’s poor gaming performance was a direct result of Macau tending to COVID-19 patients. In early August, the region confirmed its first positive coronavirus cases in some 500 days.

A Macau woman who traveled to neighboring Guangdong in late July and then tested positive following her return was cited for the spread. The adult-aged female was the likely culprit for three of her family members additionally testing positive for the coronavirus.

With four cases, Macau again went on a near lockdown. Quarantine requirements were reinitiated for travelers from Hong Kong and Taiwan, and people arriving from the mainland were required to show recent negative tests. The entry protocols remain in effect.

Macau underwent a mass testing blitz in the wake of the four new cases. The enclave reported that no other cases were identified during the testing of more than 716,000 local residents.

Enclave officials said further mass testing would only occur if additional cases popped up in the region. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Macau has confirmed only 63 cases, and zero deaths have been linked to the virus.

Predictable Result

Gaming analysts focused on Macau didn’t overreact to the August casino report, as the poor showing was largely expected.

“[August] shouldn’t surprise anyone, given well-documented travel restrictions and effective border closure,” read a note from JPMorgan.

The analysts added in their coverage that the last week in August, as Macau extended permitted negative test results for mainland China from three days to a week, showed signs of recovery.

GGR run-rate improved to MOP220 million to MOP230 million (US$27.4 million to $28.7 million) per day during the last week of August, already rebounding back to June’s levels,” explained JPMorgan analysts DS Kim, Amanda Cheng, and Livy Lyu.

“While one week doesn’t make a trend, a near-instant recovery post border normalization bodes well for upcoming high season in fourth quarter, including the October Golden Week,” she continued/

Golden Week runs Friday, October 1, through Thursday, October 7. One of the most important holidays on the Chinese calendar, Golden Week is highlighted by the October 1 National Day, which celebrates the formal proclamation of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The holiday is celebrated by citizens on the mainland, as well as in China’s two SARs, Macau and Hong Kong.