Macau Casinos Suffer Another Dismal Month, Gaming Win Down 50 Percent

Posted on: October 3, 2022, 07:46h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 05:28h.

Macau casino operators continue to bleed cash, keeping their multibillion-dollar integrated casino resorts open despite an inadequate number of visitors traveling to the Chinese enclave.

Macau casinos COVID-19 Golden Week
Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng addresses the media during the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 2022. Macau casinos need more gamblers to return their gaming revenue numbers closer to their pre-pandemic levels. (Image: Macau Daily News)

Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau said casinos won just MOP2.96 billion (US$370 million) in September 2022.

While that’s a 35% improvement on August — when the casinos were forced to close for 12 days amid the region’s worst COVID-19 outbreak of the entire pandemic — the nearly MOP3 billion in gaming revenue represents a 50% reduction from September 2021. Compared with September 2019, Macau’s gaming revenue was down 87% last month.

Through nine months of 2022, gross gaming revenue (GGR) in what was the world’s richest gaming market before the pandemic stands at approximately $3.94 billion. Through nine months in 2019, the six casino operators had collectively won more than $27.2 billion.

Borders Blocked

Macau casinos had hoped 2022 would be different. But in this year’s nine operating months, the local gaming industry bettered 2021 only once. That came back in February when GGR exceeded February 2021 by 6%.

The eight other months experienced drastic year-over-year declines as China tightened leisure and most non-essential travel throughout the mainland because of COVID-19 concerns. In the eight months that experienced drops, GGR was down, on average, 59%, compared with the same month in 2021.

China has preserved its “zero-COVID” policy that greatly limits daily life in regions where new coronavirus outbreaks are detected. Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic that obeys China’s “one country, two systems” principle, has largely followed the mainland’s “zero-COVID” arrangement.

“China has embraced lockdowns for their success in stamping out cases, with pressure to swiftly contain flareups building ahead of this month’s Party Congress, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-busting third term in power,” Hong Kong-based journalist Shirley Zhao wrote in Forbes.

“While some of the recent shutdowns have been relatively short — Chengdu endured two weeks — others have lasted for 40 days or more,” Zhao added.

Visitor Rebound

China is currently celebrating Golden Week, the country’s week-long National Day holiday. Before the pandemic, the event brought around 900K travelers to the casino hub during the first week of October. Though the 2022 holiday will be another considerably scaled-back celebration, analysts are forecasting a better monthly performance for gaming.

The consensus among gaming analysts covering Macau predicts about a 9% year-over-year GGR slide in October. That would put October 2022 casino win at approximately $491.8 million.

Macau expects a more significant influx of visitors next month when China plans to resume its e-visa scheme to allow mainlanders to more easily visit Macau. The planned resumption of e-visas through the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) is what Macau’s six casino giants have long been waiting for.

Of the 27.9 million people who traveled to Macau in 2019, 13.1 million travelers gained entry authorization by way of IVS.