Macau casinos post strong March results

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Macau casinos post strong March results

Macau’s 40-strong casino market is reportedly continuing its slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic induced slump, posting a rise of 13.6 per cent month-on-month in aggregated gross gaming revenues for March.

World Casino Directory reports that in March, Macau posted gross gaming revenues of US$1.04 billion, with the monthly figure representing the market’s best performance of 2021 and took the year-to-date tally up to $2.95 billion.

However, the source explained that this cumulative reckoning is still some 22.5 per cent below the $3.81 billion chalked up for the same three-month period in 2020 and stands a massive 69 per cent below the $9.51 billion earned in 2019.

A report from JP Morgan disclosed that the past month had seen Macau’s casino market post sequential improvements in weekly aggregated gross gaming revenues with the daily run rate now standing in the region of $33.46 million.

The international brokerage purportedly declared that this represented “the best monthly print since coronavirus and showed a consistent sequential recovery from $31.21 million to $32.45 million per day in the past three months”.

“In our view, this reflects improving travel sentiment and pent-up demand as well as the modest relaxation of local restrictions in Macau such as the resumption of standing bets or the removal or coronavirus test requirements for casino entry,” JP Morgan said.

Macau scraps casino coronavirus test certificates

A coronavirus test certificate is no longer required to enter Macau casinos, GGR Asia reported in March.

From midnight, March 3, people wishing to enter Macau casino floors will no longer need to show a test certificate proving they are free of COVID-19 infection.

The rule where all individuals from mainland China arriving in Macau must have a negative nucleic acid test report issued within seven days of arrival, stays in place, authorities said.

A number of investment analysts had suggested that the COVID-19 test requirement for entry to Macau itself and the duration of the test certificate validity was an inhibiting factor for would-be tourists to Macau from mainland China.

The mainland is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel bubble with Macau.

DS Kim, an analyst at the JP Morgan banking group said in a note that dropping the need for the test certificate might be a “tiny step toward further easing” of restrictions on the market.

But he observed: “Since those entering Macau from China would already have negative test results anyway, the rule change is unlikely to affect inbound demand.”

But the change would probably “help revise demand” from “local” players, who had been “nearly absent since mid-July,” he added.

Brokerage Sanford C Bernstein said in a Wednesday memo that “Macau locals play is likely two to three per cent of gross gaming revenue in the market”.

Analysts Vitaly Umansky, Tianjiao Yu and Louis Li described dropping the COVID-19 test requirements for casino entry as a “positive step forward on the path to normalcy, but we do not see any border changes forthcoming in the immediate near-term.”

The local authorities had introduced the COVID-19 test certificate rule for casino entry with effect from July 15.

Factors affecting the decision to ease the COVID-19 test rule for casino access included, said the local government, the ongoing “strict compliance” with COVID-19 countermeasures on casino floors.

That included: self-certification of individuals’ health via the local online health code system in order to access casino floors; use of protective face masks; introduction of separating barriers between players; and social distance rules ensuring reasonable distancing between all those inside casinos.

The Macau government said also contributing to the decision to cancel the COVID-19 test certificate requirement, was the fact that the epidemic risk in mainland China had been “significantly reduced” since mid-February.

Currently, there are no areas in mainland China of “medium or high incidence” of COVID-19 infection “for at least 10 consecutive days, nor local transmission for 24 consecutive days”.

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