Macau casino revenue totaled just MOP2.68 billion (US$331.2 million) in April of 2022. It was the worst monthly outcome for the six casinos operating in the Chinese gambling enclave since September of 2020.
With incoming travel remaining limited to the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and COVID-19 outbreaks detected in several key feeder markets, Macau visitation remained low. Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic, is following China’s “zero COVID” reactionary policy that results in strict response to new coronavirus cases.
[Casino revenue] remained largely subdued due to mainland China COVID-19 outbreaks and restrictive travel and border control,” a note from Sanford C. Bernstein on the April GGR performance summarized.
Macau continues to require visitors arriving at its border gates to present a recently completed COVID-19 nucleic test. The validity of that test was limited to 24 hours throughout much of April.
Macau casinos are bleeding millions of dollars in operating overhead each month, as the enclave government has directed the firms to avoid shuttering their gaming floors and resorts and furloughing workers. With their coveted gaming licenses expiring in June, and the region amid a retendering process, the casinos are doing all they can to stay in the government’s good graces.
April 2022 was one of the ugliest months for Macau since the onset of a highly contagious respiratory virus that become known as COVID-19. Last month only further pushed gross gaming revenue (GGR) below pre-pandemic conditions.
With a third of 2022 in the books, GGR for January through April totals just MOP20.45 billion (US$2.53 billion). That’s 36% below the same four months in 2021, and it only gets worse when comparing previous years. January-April GGR in 2020 totaled MOP31.2 billion. January-April GGR in 2019 totaled nearly MOP100 billion.
Things might not improve anytime soon. Mainland China authorities on Sunday reported 846 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases. The majority of the caseload is in the Shanghai region, which is less than 800 miles north of Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Yesterday marked the official start of China’s Labor Day holiday, one of seven annual public holidays in the People’s Republic. The yearly celebration is traditionally a three-day holiday, but officials in Beijing opted to lengthen the holiday festivities to five days this year because of ongoing travel disruptions.
The holiday extension would in normal times be highly positive for Macau visitation and revenues, as more people would travel,” Bernstein continued. “However, with the COVID outbreaks in China, and lockdowns across many regions in China, travel will definitely not live up to prior expectations.”
It was only last week that things were looking up for Macau. Prior to China’s latest COVID-19 detection reports, which suggest the disease is still rampant across the mainland, Macau decided to lengthen the validity time period of negative tests for entry to 72 hours for visitors coming from Zhuhai.
Zhuhai is one of the largest feeder markets for Macau. The Guangdong city’s downtown is less than seven miles from the casino hub.
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