Macau Casinos Win Just $545M in October, as Holiday Golden Week Lays Egg

Posted on: November 1, 2021, 04:17h. 

Last updated on: November 1, 2021, 04:49h.

The first week in October is typically one of the busiest times in Macau, as tens of thousands of mainland Chinese residents flock to the enclave for the annual Golden Week holiday. But the 2021 rendition of the weeklong festival was a bust.

Macau casino revenue GGR
The steps of the Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau are typically packed with tourists. But the landmark was largely vacant during October 2021. Casinos in the region suffered as a result of fewer visitors during the annual Golden Week holiday. (Image: GGRAsia)

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) from the six licensed commercial casino operators totaled 4.37 billion patacas (US$545 million). That’s 42 percent lower than what the casinos kept from gamblers in October 2020.

October’s $545 million win is the worst month of the year to date for Macau’s gaming industry, which is the world’s richest gambling market.

COVID-19 was once again to blame for the poor performance. A small outbreak of new coronavirus cases detected in late September, paired with Macau’s stringent response policy, resulted in the region tightening its borders to mainlanders. Though only a handful of positive individuals were identified, and no subsequent additional cases were found during the region-wide testing blitz, Macau and neighboring Zhuhai opted to delay their easing of entry and exit protocols.

The number of visitors who traveled to Macau during the October 1-7 Golden Week was down almost 94 percent from an already modest 2020 holiday performance.

Investors Unrattled

October was scary bad for Macau’s six casino giants, but Wall Street reacted positively. That’s presumably due to the consensus October forecast from gaming analysts focused on Asia and Macau calling for a year-over-year GGR decline of 42 percent.

The three US-based casino operators invested in Macau all saw their shares make considerable gains on Monday. Las Vegas Sands was up almost six percent, MGM Resorts 2.8 percent, and Wynn Resorts 4.3 percent. Melco Resorts, headquartered in Hong Kong but publicly traded on the Nasdaq, climbed 5.5 percent.

Along with a slightly better-than-expected October, Monday’s stock gains could also be due to visitors returning to Macau.

Zhuhai ended its 14-day quarantine requirement for people returning from Macau effective October 19. Since then, Macau’s casino resorts have seen increased demand.

The daily average of visitors entering Macau during Golden Week was a dismal 1,166. Fast-forward to the last week of October, and the Macau Government Tourism Office reveals that visitor counts were more than 20,000 people per day after Zhuhai eased quarantine restrictions.

Looking Ahead

Through 10 months, 2021 Macau GGR totals a little more than $9 billion, roughly 57 percent better than 2020 January through October. However, through 10 months in pre-pandemic 2019, Macau casinos won approximately $30.8 billion.

The future of Macau’s casino hub will largely depend on the enclave government. An intensive review of all aspects of the gaming industry is underway, as the six operating licenses are set to expire next June.

COVID-19 continuing to impede that process might result in Macau electing to extend the concessions. Macau’s 2002 gaming law allows the government to do so one time for a period lasting up to five years — or June 2027.