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Macau Casino Win Down 64 Percent, Gaming Workers Top Priority for Vaccine

Macau casinos won MOP8.02 billion ($1 billion) to kick off the year. While the industry is showing some signs of a recovery, January 2021 reflected similar problems incurred throughout much of 2020.

Macau continues to greatly restrict who can enter the Chinese Special Administrative Region and grab a casino bus (seen here) to the Cotai Strip. As a result, the casino win again had a difficult month. (Image: Bloomberg)

The $1 billion won in January represents a 63.7 percent decline from January 2020 — or $1.77 billion. But it was a 2.6 percent improvement in December.

More favorable year-over-year comparisons begin with February, as this time a year ago is when China and Macau began ordering people to stay home and travel was greatly restricted.

Premium mass was the best performing segment during the month, while junket VIP was most hamstrung, and base mass continued to be hampered by low levels of visitors and Hong Kong travel closure,” gaming analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein said in a Monday note.

The brokerage added that January “continued to be negatively impacted by visitation bottlenecks due to visa processing and COVID-19 testing requirements.”

Last year was the worst year since 2006 for Macau casinos. January 2021 marked the industry’s 12th consecutive monthly gaming revenue decline.

Macau Entry Restrictions Remain

As was the case in February 2020, getting in and out of Macau is presently no easy task. Being a Special Administrative Region of China, Macau has the freedom to squeeze its border gates and prevent certain people from being granted access.

With a new COVID-19 strain recently detected in several parts of Asia, and Macau last month reporting its first new COVID-19 case in more than seven months, the enclave has once again amended its entry procedures.

People arriving at Macau’s border coming from anywhere other than mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong will be turned away. People from those three areas are permitted entry, so long as they have a recent negative nucleic acid test.

Those permitted entry are then required to undergo a supervised quarantine that ranges from two to three weeks.

The Macau Public Security Police, which monitors the flow of people in and out of the gaming hub, said 85 percent fewer people visited Macau in 2020 than the prior year. The enclave welcomed approximately 5.92 million people last year.

Casino Staff Vaccinations

Macau’s economy is heavily dependent on its gaming industry. Casinos generate nearly 90 percent of the local government’s tax revenue.

That’s why Ao Ieong U, Macau’s secretary for social affairs and culture, announced this week that casino workers are considered a top priority for COVID-19 vaccinations. Gaming industry employees are at the top of the vaccine list along with medical workers, government officials, teachers, and professional drivers.

Macau is set to receive its first COVID-19 vaccines later this month. Macau Public Health Clinical Director Alvis Lo Iek Long explained the region will receive the Sinopharm, BioNTech, and Fosun Pharma vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine, Lo said, will not be available in Macau until the third quarter of 2021.

Macau confirmed that it has purchased 800,000 doses of the three vaccines. The government additionally has a purchase order for 400,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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