In April, Macau casinos really took it on the chin as gaming revenue slid to a new record low at almost 97 percent year-on-year.
Figures released Friday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) show that the state’s casino operators created a combined revenue of just MOP754 m (US$ 94.4 m) in April, a remarkable 96.8 percent decline from the same month last year, and barely one-sixth of the March 2020 casino total.
Incredibly, Macau’s April sum was only one-quarter of the MOP3.1b in February, and that month saw all casinos suspended for 15 days as the local government sought to prevent further COVID-19 coronavirus spread.
While the casinos eventually reopened with reduced gaming capacity, Macau and some of its major feeder markets closed borders. Especially disruptive was a 14-day quarantine policy implemented in Guangdong, the nearest and most populous province in China, from which Macau receives the majority of its visitors.
The travel restrictions were responsible for the impressive decline in total tourist arrivals to Macau in March of 93.7 percent year-on-year. (Mainland tourists were down 96.3 percent.) One day in early April, official police figures showed that a record-low 210 people were passing through Macau’s border checkpoints.
Sanford C Bernstein analysts this week indicated travel restrictions between Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China could begin to ease in the coming weeks. Yet Hong Kong also announced that it would extend its 14-day quarantine period until June 7.
Health officials in Hong Kong, however, also said they would collaborate with their Macau and mainland counterparts to ‘synchronise’ quarantine steps, so travellers do not have to endure 14 days of self-isolation at both ends of their journeys. No timelines were provided for this synchronisation though.
Reuters recently estimated that Macau’s six casino concessionaires were sitting on a combined cash pile of over $12b, while Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) owns nearly half of that amount, owing to its aversion to daily dividends. In general, none of the operators are expected to have to collect debt in order to keep the lights on, although this may change if the situation in Macau does not improve within six months.