Macau casinos posted gaming revenue dropping nearly 90% in February after a two-week suspension of operations due to coronavirus was ordered by local authorities.
On Sunday Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) released figures which showed local casinos had generated revenue of just MOP3.1b (US$ 386.6 m) in February, down 87.8 percent from the same period last year, the largest monthly decline ever. Gaming revenue is down nearly half to MOP24.9b for the first two months of 2020.
China’s special administration ordered its casinos to shut their doors for 15 days starting February 4, as the COVID-19 outbreak continued to spread out in Hebei province from its ground zero. China limited the number of individual visit schemes (IVS) and tour groups to Macau, while Macau’s government mulled to shut down its borders entirely to reduce its future COVID-19 exposure.
After that shutdown period ended, Macau casinos began staggered reopenings and the DICJ said Friday that only two casinos–Casino Taipa at the Regency Art Hotel and Casino Macau Jockey Club at the Macau Roosevelt Hotel–were yet to reopen.
Operators were permitted to open only if they agreed to follow certain restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the virus, including holding empty seats between players at gaming tables and electronic gaming machines, not allowing’ standing’ bets and requiring all guests and staff to wear face masks until 22 March.
Revenue in Macau during January fell 11.3 percent year-on-year after China’s travel restrictions began to take effect in the month’s final 10 days. During the last two months, the chaos has deprived casinos of their annual Lunar New Year holiday windfall.
Casino operators took a major financial hit from the closure in February, with many operators reporting daily expenses of $2.5 m-$ 3 m, mostly from paying staff costs. With the COVID-19 crisis far from over and other Asia-Pacific countries affected by the virus restricting the ability of their own people to fly, anybody’s guess remains about the long-term effects on the operators ‘ bottom lines.