Macau’s casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) might recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, two gaming equipment executives said during a Macau-based industry conference held online during Wednesday.
Lloyd Robson, general manager for the Asia Pacific region, at casino gaming supplier Aristocrat Leisure Ltd, said he expected “some positive momentum” in the Macau market by 2023.
He was speaking during a panel session for the supplier sector, during the one-day 2021 MGS Summit.
Michael Cheers, general manager for Asia at casino equipment maker and online gaming content supplier International Game Technology Plc, said during the same panel session, that the manufacturing sector might have to wait until the first half of 2023 to “hop into a positive business environment”. That was a reference to the Lunar Year of the Rabbit that begins on January 22, 2023.
According to government data, Macau GGR from slot machines stood at MOP3.57 billion (US$445.4 million) for the first nine months of 2021, down by 68.3 percent versus the first nine months of 2019, the last full year of pre-pandemic trading, when such slot GGR was MOP11.27 billion.
Aristocrat’s Mr Robson said 2022 might be too soon to see much improvement in visitor numbers and Macau’s casino business. This was because restrictions, namely on inbound package tours from mainland China, and on eVisas for independent travellers from the mainland, were likely to persist.
Mr Robson added that the Winter Olympics in Beijing next February, and the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November 2022, were among reasons for the Chinese authorities to be conservative on cross-border movement.
During the same summit session, Ken Jolly, vice president and managing director for Asia at casino equipment and online gaming content supplier Scientific Games Corp, said the gaming manufacturing industry will need more time to “build up growth again”, with business only back to a pre-pandemic level by 2025.
That was also the view of Betty Zhao, chief operating officer of LT Game Ltd, a Macau-based brand that provides of electronic gaming equipment and management technology for casinos. She mentioned that, according to a Macau government projection, visitor arrivals will only be close “to the good old days” by 2025.
The organisers of the 2021 MGS Summit, including the Macau Gaming Equipment Manufacturers Association, had hoped to have an in-person element to the event, but switched to online-only, after a number of Covid-19 cases was reported in Macau in late September and early October.
A larger trade event, known as MGS Entertainment Show and Summit, had been held annually in person for a number of years up to and including 2019. The 2020 event didn’t proceed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mainland China is currently the only place to have a largely quarantine-free travel arrangement with Macau. The Macau-Hong Kong border is not technically closed for residents of the two places, but quarantine protocols have effectively rendered travel impractical.
Scientific Games’ Mr Jolly said he believed quarantine-free inbound travel via Hong Kong – through a so-called travel bubble – “should be up quite quickly” and would boost Macau’s annual GGR by as much as 20 percent.
The authorities of Macau and Hong Kong have said they wish to ease travel between the two cities as soon as practicable.
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