In October, Macau casino gambling revenue declined ‘just’ about three-quarters, which obviously counts in this pandemic-plagued year as a roaring success.
Figures released on Sunday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau of Macau (DICJ) show MOP7.3b (US$ 914 m) market-wide casino gaming revenue, a 72.5 percent decrease from the same month last year but the highest monthly total recorded in (mostly) pre-pandemic January since MOP22.1b.
Since January, the 72.5 percent decrease was also the lowest in percentage terms and the financial sum of October represented a substantial improvement from September’s MOP2.2b. October, however, featured the annual Golden Week holiday party, so maybe everyone would want to decide for the time being to chug their cheaper champagne.
Gaming revenue sits just below MOP45.9 m for the year to date, an 81.4 percent decrease from the amount recorded for the first 10 months of 2019. But with gambling tax revenue accounting for 80 percent of China’s budget’s special administrative area, this unprecedented deficit has serious implications not just for casino operators, but for residents of Macau as a whole.
Recently , the government of Macau estimated that its 2021 revenue will be MOP1b higher than spending, but that is after dipping into an unprecedented MOP26b fund, making the administration vulnerable in case of other emergencies, such as a typhoon.
China has been slowly adding regions that qualify for the issuance of new travel visas, and the government of Macau expressed hope that Beijing will provide “strong support for Macau’s economic development.” However, partly due to ongoing testing and quarantine laws, consumer acceptance of travel visas has been slower than desired.
The decline of Macau has been broad-based, with Q3 activity documented by both VIP and mass market gaming that reflected a shadow of their former self. With its focus on deterring illegal capital outflows, China’s increasingly strident campaign against ‘cross-border’ gambling presents a particular problem for VIP gambling to regain its former glories.