Macau Casinos Show Life, September Gaming Revenue Increases 66 Percent from August

Posted on: October 1, 2020, 10:23h. 

Last updated on: October 1, 2020, 12:06h.

Macau casinos reported gross gaming revenue (GGR) of MOP2.21 billion ($277 million USD) in September, a 90 percent year-over-year decline, but a significant surge in August.

Macau casino GGR China Hong Kong
With entry restrictions easing, there’s finally some reason for optimism in Macau. (Image: AFP)

The Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said the six licensed casino operators saw business improve last month, as their gaming income jumped 66 percent in August when GGR totaled $167 million.

With nine months in 2020 complete, Macau’s GGR stands at $4.8 billion USD. That’s down 82.5 percent from the same nine months in 2019. The difference is a loss of approximately $22.8 billion.

Macau has required its six casino operators to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic and keep their workers employed. The exception was a 15-day mandatory shutdown in early February. Macau has reported just 46 total COVID-19 cases, and zero deaths. The enclave’s decision to close its borders as the pandemic developed out of China has been credited for largely keeping Macau free of the virus.

The region is currently as busy as it’s been since the pandemic struck. October 1-8 is Golden Week, and Macau casino resorts are reporting strong bookings.

IVS Return, Reason for Optimism?

September marked the resumption of the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) between mainland China and Macau. The permit arrangement allows visitors to come and go to the gaming hub without quarantining on either end.

IVS ticket holders must be accompanied by a COVID-19 certificate showing they’ve tested negative for the virus within the past seven days.

Macau, the world’s richest gaming market, is the favored leisure, entertainment, and gambling destination for Chinese people. In 2019, China accounted for 70.9 percent of all visitor arrivals to Macau. Nearly 28 million mainlanders made a trip to the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Macau gaming analyst DS Kim of JPMorgan Securities Asia Pacific says September’s casino numbers suggest that up to 50 percent of demand from bordering Guangdong has recovered. However, that’s considerably lower than other reopened casino markets. Australia and the United States, for example, show local demand has recovered 70-100 percent.

Recovery progress is hindered by increased scrutiny on capital outflow by China, slower visa processing, required COVID-19 testing, and less-than-strong confidence in traveling overseas,” Kim explained.

Citigroup’s George Choi says the Chinese government’s visa-processing capacity remains severely constrained by its decision to continue the suspension of IVS kiosks.

Hong Kong Opening

Travel between Macau and Hong Kong, China’s two SARs, remains limited. Currently, a traveler must quarantine in Hong Kong and Macau for 14 days on both sides of the trip.

Hong Kong accounted for around 15 percent of Macau’s pre-coronavirus visitor arrivals. This week, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam called on Macau, as well as other mainland places, to ease travel restrictions and allow Hong Kong people to once again freely travel.

“It is time for us to take a very pragmatic approach to allow people flow, whether between Hong Kong and the mainland, or Hong Kong and Macau, and Hong Kong with other overseas places,” Lam declared on Tuesday.

Mainland China accounts for more than 90 percent of visits to Hong Kong.