Macau casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) declined by 87.8 percent in February in year-on-year terms, negatively impacted by a 15-day shutdown ordered by the city’s government as part of the efforts to contain the spread locally of the Covid-19 disease.
Such GGR was MOP3.10 billion (US$387 million), according to data issued on Sunday by the city’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, a body also known as DICJ.
Judged month-on-month relative to January, when Macau casino GGR tallied just under MOP22.13 billion, the February performance was down by 86.0 percent.
The latest monthly result puts the market’s accumulated 2020 year-on-year decline at 49.9 percent, to MOP25.23 billion.
The February decline coincided with the city’s government announcing that the city’s casinos would have to close for a 15-day period from the stroke of midnight on February 5.
Some of the city’s casinos started to reopen on February 20, but the government gave operators the option of applying for a grace period of up to 30 days before relaunch.
Only 29 of the 39 active casinos in the city reopened on February 20, with eight additional venues resuming operations last week. As of Friday, only two of the city’s active casinos were yet to reopen, according to the casino regulator.
Resumption of gaming was however conditional on operators taking special precautions at the request of DICJ, in terms of density of seating for customers at gaming tables, and ensuring there was a certain minimum space between tables in use.
Even after partial resumption of gaming business, casino executives and investment analysts were not expecting the Macau market to see a fast ramping up of trade, due to factors including various travel restrictions imposed in China and beyond to try to contain the virus’ spread.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd had estimated February casino GGR in Macau “to be down 90 percent”, with March potentially “down 80 percent,” assuming no significant improvement in travel arrangements.
JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd suggested in a note last week that recovery in consumer demand for Macau casino services might happen only in the fourth quarter this year, compared to market consensus that the pickup would be in the third quarter.
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