Macau casinos really took it on the chin in April as gaming revenue slid nearly 97% year-on-year to a new record low.
Figures released Friday by Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ) show the state’s casino operators generated combined revenue of just MOP754m (US$94.4m) in April, a stunning 96.8% decline from the same month last year, and barely one-sixth of the sum the casinos generated in March 2020.
Incredibly, Macau’s April total was barely one-quarter of February’s MOP3.1b, and that month saw all casinos closed for 15 days as the local government attempted to minimize further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
While the casinos eventually reopened with diminished gaming capacity, borders closed between Macau and some of its major feeder markets. Most damaging was a 14-day quarantine policy imposed in Guangdong, China’s closest and most populous province, from which Macau derives the bulk of its visitors.
The travel restrictions were blamed for the astonishing 93.7% year-on-year decline in total visitor arrivals to Macau in March. (Mainland visitors were down 96.3%.) Official police statistics showed one day in early April in which a record-low 210 people traipsed through Macau’s border checkpoints.
This week, Sanford C Bernstein analysts suggested travel restrictions between Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China could start to ease over the next few weeks. But Hong Kong just announced that its 14-day quarantine policy would be extended through June 7.
However, Hong Kong health officials also said they would work with their Macau and mainland counterparts to ‘synchronize’ quarantine measures, so travelers may not have to undergo 14 days of self-isolation at both ends of their journey. However, no timelines for this synchronization were given.
Reuters recently reported that Macau’s six casino concessionaires were sitting on a collective cash pile of over $12b, although nearly half of that sum is held by Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), thanks to its aversion to paying regular dividends. None of the operators are expected to actually need to raise debt to keep the lights on, although that could change if Macau’s situation doesn’t improve within six months.