Plodding gaming revenue recovery continues in Macao

Macao showed a modest increase in gross gaming revenue in January according to figures released Monday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.

The bureau reported January revenue of $1 billion (U.S.), a 63.7 percent decline from the January 2020 total. It was the 16th straight month of declines compared with previous years.

Revenue increased last month by about 2.6 percent over December’s total and was at its highest level since February 2020 when the Chinese enclave’s 41 casinos were closed by the government for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The recovery of Macao’s gaming industry has been slowed by government policies to close the region’s borders, eliminating visitation from mainland China, Hong Kong and other Southeast Asian countries. The government began relaxing border policies in August, but tourists have been slow to return to the world’s largest gaming hub.

“While the modest sequential improvement is encouraging, gross gaming revenue is still only 32 percent of prior year levels,” gaming analyst John DeCree of Las Vegas-based Union Gaming, said in a note to investors Monday.

“With the relaxing of some travel policies and the return of the (immigrant visa service) program, we expected fourth quarter 2020 gaming win to recover quickly to about 30 percent to 35 percent of prior-year levels … as it did,” he said. “However, we continue to expect the climb from a 35 percent recovery to a 70 percent recovery to take several months or even quarters.”

DeCree said he believes the worst is behind Macao, but that the recovery will be slow.

“With a number of isolated COVID cases throughout China and the region, we expect travel will remain moderate over the coming months, including during the Chinese New Year period,” he said.

The Lunar New Year begins Feb. 12.

Macao is important to Las Vegas because three companies have a presence there, including Wynn Resorts Ltd., MGM Resorts International and market leader Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, the late chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Las Vegas Sands operates six properties in Macao and one in Singapore.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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