Macau casino revenue increasing in September

By Ethan Anderson Updated
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Macau’s daily casino gross gaming revenue in September so far is nearly double the average across the whole of August.

GGR Asia reports that a note from brokerage firm Sanford C Bernstein made the estimate, based on what it termed “channel checks” – that the average daily rate for September 1 to 6 inclusive was around US$10.4 million, compared to $5.4 million in August.

Macau’s September casino gross gaming revenue is likely to see year-on-year decline in the “mid-80s” percentage wise, with “weekly numbers getting better” as recovery is driven by “increasing visa issuances” for visits by mainlanders from Guangdong province, added the memo.

Macau’s gross gaming revenue contracted 81.6 per cent year-on-year in the eight months to August 31, according to data from the city’s government.

Forecasts for 2020 “remain largely educated guesses at this time, with constantly-changing conditions altering expectations,” suggested the note from analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Kelsey Zhu.

They added: “With a visa issuance timetable now in place, we believe the drivers of recovery will be confidence levels of customers to travel and spend, opening up Hong Kong to Macau travel and an increase in frequency of air transportation within Greater China, to airports in Guangdong/Hong Kong/Macau, to facilitate long-haul travel.”

The institution estimated – based on its checks – that Macau GGR for September 1 to 6 inclusive, was approximately US$62.5 million.

“The month-to-date average daily rate is down 89 per cent, compared to September 2019, but up 94 per cent compared to August this year, stated the brokerage.

“VIP volumes are down in the low 90s of per cent, in year-on-year terms, and mass is down nearly 90 per cent.

“Both segments are beginning to show a slight pickup,” the analysts added.

Sanford Bernstein observed that since exit visa processing for Macau tourism purposes by residents of Zhuhai and Guangdong province as a whole were resumed respectively on August 12 and August 26, average daily visitor numbers to Macau had “further climbed to 12,807” on September 2; and reached 14,600 on September 3, up from approximately 5,000 daily cases in early August.

Sanford Bernstein suggested it was taking approximately 10 days for such visas to be issued, noting such tourists also need to obtain a certificate showing freedom from COVID-19 infection to be allowed into Macau.

Such a certificate must have been issued within seven days of the visitor’s planned arrival to the city and is required for entry to Macau’s casinos.

Nonetheless, the institution’s analysts noted visa applications for tourism to Macau from the rest of mainland China would begin on September 23 and “should boost visitation by mid-October.”

Sanford Bernstein also gave some commentary on the prospects of Macau receiving visitors from Hong Kong, a feeder market which it said in normal times provided approximately 10 per cent to 15 per cent of Macau’s annual gaming revenues.

“Hong Kong’s citywide COVID-19 testing programme could see more than 4 million Hong Kong residents tested by mid-September. Once that occurs, and cases drop to close to zero, we should see the city added to the mainland China-Macau travel bubble, which will be an immediate boost to revenues,” stated the analysts.

Macau looks to expand city’s tourism offering

Macau is looking at broadening its horizons beyond gambling, to become a more well-rounded tourism destination.

Calvin Ayre reported in September that the COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the city’s gambling industry and serves as the perfect example of why diversification is needed.

Macau’s Master Plan for urban development has gone through its initial design phase.

The latest draft was released last week, with casinos still a focal point.

The plan keeps casinos where they are now in Cotai and New Outer Harbour Area, while stablishing new urban tourism zones that would not be open to casinos or other gambling activity.

Macau officials point to the northern region of Taipa, which could become an urban waterfront masterpiece designated to attract tourism and businesses.

A new tourism and leisure route specialising in different forms of entertainment could also be integrated and located around Nam Van and Barra urban areas.

The area closest to the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge could become the go-to spot for conferences and exhibitions, capitalising on the area’s proximity to the bridge and its link to the three significant hubs.

The Master Plan is just a concept, but one that has a lot of potential to see Macau morph into something completely different.

The public now has a chance to weigh in on what it thinks of the project, and can offer input until November 2.

After that, the project and the input will be reviewed and it will most likely be a year before anything else materialises.

In presenting the project, director of Land, Public and Works Transport Bureau Chan Pou Ha explained the department will have 60 days of public consultation, which will follow a period of 180 days for the company responsible for the consultation to elaborate on their preliminary report.

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