After six straight months of 90% gaming revenue declines, a 72.5% drop in October could be considered a win for Macau’s battered casino industry.
The region’s Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau said Sunday that Macau casinos collected $910 million during October, which saw China relax travel restrictions from the mainland that have been in place much of the year in order to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
Analysts pointed out that Macau’s October results were a 229% improvement over September.
Mainland China eased the controls on visitation to Macau at the beginning of the month to coincide with the Golden Week holiday, considered the second most lucrative period for the casinos business following Chinese New Year.
However, visitor arrivals were still down more than 80%, although analysts said the numbers began to pick up in the following weeks.
Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, and MGM Resorts International are the U.S. companies with casino operations in Macau, considered the world’s largest gaming market in terms of revenues prior to the pandemic.
Through the first 10 months of 2020, Macau gaming revenues are down 81.4% to $5.75 billion. In all of 2019, Macau casinos produced $36.6 billion in gaming revenues.
Macau casinos have seen business slow significantly since the COVID-19 outbreak in January. Officials canceled the lucrative Chinese New Year celebrations and forced casinos to close for 15 days in February. COVID-19 travel restrictions from different Chinese provinces have hurt visitation.
Analysts have said a continued reduction in travel restrictions, along with streamlining the visa-issuance process required by the government for Mainland China residents to visit Macau, will help the market recover. Simplifying the virus testing protocols that eliminate mandated quarantines – especially for those visitors who don’t test positive – will also give Macau visitation a lift.
During the past few months, Macau’s casinos remained largely empty as inconvenient requirements – such as obtaining a negative virus test – made it difficult to enter Macau from the mainland. Other destinations such as Hainan are also proving a draw for Chinese travelers, offering such perks as duty-free shopping.
Macau is the only destination in China with legal and regulated casinos.
Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.