Macau casino gaming revenue recorded another tough decline in May as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) quarantine measures continue to prevent mainland Chinese punters from traveling.

Figures released Monday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) indicate casino gaming revenue amounting to MOP1.76b (US$221m) in May, down 93.2% from the same month in 2019. This makes 8 consecutive months of year-on-year revenue drops, and pushes 2020 year-to-date revenue total down 73.7% to MOP125.7 billion ($15.7 billion).

May’s revenue total was over two times the the MOP754m the market reported in April and May’s rate of drop was also better than analysts had projected. That’s cold comfort to Macau’s 6 gaming concessionaires, however, all of which revealed significant declines in their recent Q1 earnings reports and are reported to be losing about $1 each day.

The figures will not start to recover until Hong Kong and Guangdong province, from which the majority of Macau’s tourists depart, lift the 14-day quarantine imposed on individuals returning from Macau. Many expect that these restrictions could be eased within a week or two, however, much will depend on the number of new COVID-19 cases remaining at a level Beijing can accept.

The effect of Macau’s casino decline on the local economy has been extraordinary. GDP over the first three months of this year is down 49.7% year-on-year, marking the 5th straight quarterly drop in the special administrative area’s economic activity, which is largely dependent on tourism.

Incoming tourist numbers for the month of April stood at around over 219,000 average of 3 million. The country has yet to restart issuing Individual Visit Scheme permits to mainland residents, and persons who are allowed to visit Macau must undergo health inspections before embarking.

VIP punters are among the few persons who have been making the trek to Macau and, therefore, the conventional volatility that exists in the VIP sector has led to some unprecedented revenue figures.

Analysts had that casinos reported negative gambling revenue during the week of 18th to 24th May as VIPs played luckier than usual and there was no offset from the more reliably profitable mass market gaming sector.


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