Coronavirus tests at Macau casinos become cheaper 

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Macau visitors locked out as border changes loom

The cost of obtaining a COVID-19 virus test at four official testing locations in Macau will get cheaper from Wednesday.

Asgam reported that the cost of obtaining the test will drop to US$12.50 from US$15 per test.

The revised fee will be implemented at Taipa Ferry Terminal, Macau Forum, Kiang Wu Hospital and the University Hospital after the government reached an agreement with the China Certification and Inspection Group in Macau.

The testing fee at the eight virus test points in Macau casinos, which are only open to visitors, have not yet been announced and will remain at the US$15 price point for the time being.

Macau and mainland China authorities currently require visitors to provide a negative virus test result obtained within the previous seven days in order to cross the borders.

The Macau government also requires all individuals to submit a negative test result from within the past seven days to enter any of its gaming floors.

Although the two governments have not reached an anticipated agreement to extend the effective period of tests from seven days to 14 days, the reduced fee in Macau does send a positive message to those considering crossing the border.

Macau gaming figures on the up

The mass market growth of Macau’s casinos dramatically outpaced its flashier VIP counterparts in the third quarter, although the entire market remains down.

Calvin Ayre reported in April that Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau released figures on Friday that showed total casino gaming revenue of just US$612 million in the three months ending September 30, which is a whopping 93 per cent decline on the same period last year, but a 51 per cent improvement on the preceding quarter.

The VIP baccarat segment accounted for 48 per cent of the quarter’s total, a fraction of the same period last year, but up 51 per cent sequentially.

VIP’s share of the overall pie increased slightly from quarter two, but nonetheless took a back seat to mass market gaming for the seventh straight quarter.

Mass market gaming, including slots, gained, driven by a 77 per cent boost in mass baccarat revenue.

Interestingly, slot machine revenue fell 13 per cent from the second quarter, despite the sector adding 649 machines to its total in a bid to tempt electronic gambling fans.

About the only cause for celebration in the quarter was Macau Slot’s sports lottery, which reported football betting revenue nearly tripled from quarter two.

The return of European major league play caused football turnover to triple, while basketball betting enjoyed a similarly dramatic revenue surge.

Macau’s gaming market has posted six straight months of annual declines of at least 90 per cent and the recent Golden Week holiday failed to deliver the traditional surge of mainland gamblers.

Sanford C Bernstein analysts estimated the average daily gambling revenue was down 76 per cent from last year’s holiday period, despite Beijing approving the resumption of travel from Guangdong province in late September.

Macau’s casino tax revenue on the up

Macau’s casino may have turned a corner, with a 52.4 per cent increase in tax revenue reported by the Financial Services Bureau in Macau for August. 

Calvin Ayre reported in September that the figure, $76.8 million, was a marked increase from a month earlier.

Despite the substantial monthly increase, Macau is still a long way off from its normal revenue levels.

The gross gaming revenue reported by the casinos remains flat and is down 94.5 per cent year-on-year.

The total GGR for the city’s casinos was $166.38 million, an indication that the relaxation of border restrictions has not had a huge impact on visitation to Macau’s casinos.

At the end of August, the cumulative total GGR for casinos in Macau had only reached $4.552 billion, an 81.6 per cent decrease compared to the same period last year.

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